Thursday, April 30, 2009

Maori Stick Games

Kotane Maori Cultural Performance, Willowbank, Christchurch. Feb 2009. Ajr

When I was a kid growing up in the Waikato, Maori stick games were just another part of primary school learning and I loved them. Called Ti Rakau or titi torea in Maori, stick games usually involve two or more people sitting facing each other. In time to rhythmic chants or songs, they click the sticks together and throw them to each other. The aim of course is to catch the flying sticks without dropping them and breaking the rhythm. Early Maori are said to have used the stick games to train young men in the arts of spear handling. I was reminded of all this when I visited Willowbank here in Christchurch recently to watch a performance by the Kotane kapa haka group – they included stick games in their cultural performance. If you click on the word Kotane in the index line below, you’ll see other segments from their great evening show.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shadow Play

Auckland, April 2009. Ajr
I've long had a passion for shadows and photographing them; and I love kete. So when the two came together at Auckland Museum last week, I was more excited than was probably decent. The gallery has a spectacular collection of kete and I loved them all; but I came away just as excited about this funny little photograph. I guess I'm easily pleased.

Lakeside Church

St Faith's, Ohinemutu, Rotorua. 2007 Ajr
This is the very beautiful St Faith’s Anglican Church, built in 1910 in an elaborate Tudor style and embellished with ornate Maori carvings. It sits beside Lake Rotorua in the little Maori village of Ohinemutu, once the main Maori settlement of the area and where Rotorua was born as a tourist town in the 19th century. I love this place with its hissing steaming vents, little puffs of geothermal steam gushing out of the ground, the pavements, the gutters – just wherever it bursts free. Maori in fact, still use geothermal pools in the area for cooking, washing and bathing. But back to St Faith’s – inside there’s an amazing sand-blasted window that depicts a Maori Christ, who appears to walk on the waters of Lake Rotorua seen through the window. The village is also home to the spectacularly carved Tamatekapua meeting house, which I featured here in February. (Just put Ohinemutu into the blog search box top left, or click on Ohinemutu in the label line below).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meet the People - 12

Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things – Tania Davis (Mokai Patea), owns Ake Aotearoa a colourful gallery of Maori art and crafts in Taihape, in the central North Island with her husband, Mitch Davis and her sister-in-law, Trish Hesketh (above right), who is married to Tania’s brother, Opae Steedman. The four set Ake up in August 2006 as a showcase for local weavers, artists and designers. Tania (above left) was born and bred in Taihape. She’s an iwi representative on Ngati Whitikopeka Runanga and loves promoting matauranga (knowledge/understanding) of Maori art. “We talk about that a lot with visitors who come in here and people love that,” Tania says. “It’s all about showcasing Maori art in a positive environment.Ake Aotearoa stocks the work of Maori artists from throughout New Zealand, including the Ihi Aotearoa clothing brand, owned by Tania’s nephew, Phil Butler in Palmerston North.

Winiata Marae, Taihape. April 2009. Ajr
Tania’s home marae is Winiata Marae, which is located three kilometres south of Taihape on SH1. It’s always been an active marae that has hosted and supported a wide range of whanau, community, educational and political events. The Wharetupuna Tautahi (above) was erected and completed in 1896 by Tania’s great-great-grandfather, Winiata Te Whaaro, who commissioned Pakeha, William Willoughby to actually build it. In honour of that, it is Willoughby’s head and bust that sits on the apex as tekoteko. Carved sunflowers are depicted on the amo to represent both Pakeha and Maori. Ngati Paki, Ngati Whitikopeka and Ngati Tamakopiri are the hapu groups within Mokai Patea of the Taihape area.

Weaver at Work

Maori Weaver
Making Harakeke Kete
At Christchurch Arts Centre Market
Jan 2008 Ajr

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wellington Gallery

Wellington. April 2009 Ajr
When I was in Wellington recently I came upon this cool Maori gallery in Tory Street. Unfortunately it was closed at the time but I liked their doorway nonetheless.

Welcome to Tokoroa

Tokoroa. April 2009. Ajr
I used to live in Tokoroa decades ago and I've never really gone back. It's been more a case of flashing past on State Highway 1 on my way to somewhere else. On my way north on this trip, I had to stop there for gas, so I took a little detour around some of the main streets and was amazed by the fabulous decorative pou that have been placed in the town centre. I'll feature some of those soon but in the meantime, I loved this rather unfriendly looking fellow welcoming people to Tokoroa on the billboard leading into town.

Traditional Design Statement

Old Painted Marae Posts
Making an Interior Statement
In a Modern Home
Rotorua 2007 Ajr

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maori Place Names - 7

Mangawharariki Road, Mangaweka
Central North Island
April 2009. Ajr

Pounamu Souvenirs

Pounamu. Christchurch. March 2009. Ajr
Pounamu Necklaces
For Sale

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Tamaki Stories

Tamaki Heritage Village, Ferrymead. April 2009. Ajr
Every time I come upon the Tamaki Heritage Village out at Ferrymead here in Christchurch, I’m surprised all over again but just how very unexpected it is – a traditional fortified Maori pa tucked into a valley below the terribly proper suburban hillsides of middleclass Christchurch. I quite like that unlikely juxtaposition. For the last two years the massive two-village, 25-acre open air theatre site has hosted visitors from all around the world for their performance of The Chronicles of Uitara, a powerful story of Maori culture and of New Zealand, told across many generations of a single family – the warrior line of Uitara. As well as being a series of published books, two of the three stories in the trilogy have now been performed as ‘live encounters – Journey of Ages in Rotorua and Lost in Our Own Land in Christchurch. Now, a new Tamaki re-enactment, developed off the back of the acclaimed Christchurch story, is to be launched as a touring product, as the Tamaki company moves into its winter schedule of limited Christchurch performance dates for the onsite version. The new mobile story will be performed across New Zealand and conference and educational opportunities – particularly in Canterbury – will be a key focus.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Graphic Moment....

Auckland Museum. April 2009. Ajr
...this time from Auckland Museum

Te Papa Graphics

Cute Graphics
Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa

Hotel Sculpture

Carving - Duxton Hotel
2007. Ajr

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cafe Culture

Wellington. April 2009. Ajr
I have a new favourite cafe in Wellington - Midnight Espresso in Cuba Street. It's a crazy little place open all hours. It's got great food, a really mixed crowd and this colourful Maori-inspired mural that swirls down one wall. It makes a refreshing change from designer chic!

Waikato Boatshed

Ngaruawahia, Waikato River. April 2009 Ajr
I had to stop and take a photograph of this cool boatshed on the banks of the moody Waikato River at Ngaruawahia on my way to Auckland a week or so ago. It's an imposing sight - although my less-than-excellent photographs tend to make it look a little like a movie set facade unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Te Papa Carving

Te Papa, Wellington. April 2009. Ajr
This is the magnificent carving Waharoa (gateway) that greets you when you arrive on the first floor at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington. It was carved from a slab of totara measuring 6.6-metres long x 1.2-metres wide by Neke Kapua of Ngati Tarawhai iwi of the Arawa people and his sons Tene and Eramiha, especially for the New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch in 1906-07. It was part of a double stockade that enclosed the exhibition’s model pa, Arai-te-Uru.

Southern Marae

Dunedin 2008. Ajr
This is the very pretty Otakau Marae on Otago Peninsular, near Dunedin.
I was enthralled by the Otakau Runanga's amazing little museum - a tiny little space filled to overflowing with runanga history. Tucked away behind the main marae buildings, it houses all manner of goodies in one of those quaint 'home-style' museums that often have (to me) more charm than their much bigger, slicker city 'cousins.'

A Whale of a Tale

All Images Courtesy of Whale Watch Kaikoura
The sleepy little east coast South Island town of Kaikoura hasn’t looked back since the day five local Maori families set up Whale Watch back in 1987. In the business’s first year of operation (1989) they carried 3,000 passengers with just one boat. Today they operate four boats and they take over 100,000 people a year out on the changeable Kaikoura waters in the hope of spotting one of the visiting whales. On paper it may have seemed like a long shot but today you have to admire the original Maori families who put their homes up as collateral to secure enough money to get started. They raised $90,000 and most of that went on the boat. Today they still own 51% of the company as a charitable trust, with the balance of shares held by Ngai Tahu. Whale Watch expanded rapidly and keeping pace with the explosive growth has been their biggest challenge

In 1994 Wally Stone joined Whale Watch as managing director, signalling a whole new mindset for the organisation. New boats, refined approaches and a strategic growth plan all cemented Whale Watch as the town’s most enterprising asset, which has fed close to $2-million back into the community. In 1989 there were five tourist operators in town, including Whale Watch. Now there are over 45, plus accommodation providers, shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. There is a brand new supermarket and where other small towns in New Zealand are losing their banks, Kaikoura has three – not bad for a town with a population of just 3,500. And today the old railway hums to a different tune – the frenetic comings and goings of over 700 Whale Watch passengers a day - and Whale Watch, now one of New Zealand's leading tourism experiences, is a keen supporter and sponsor of local marae, schools, sports teams and community groups.

For those involved it was always about setting up a new economic base for the town when the railways moved out. Almost every Maori family in town had someone employed by the railway and their closing was a big loss to the community. It is fitting that Maori led the charge in the revitalisation of the town. Maori legend tells us that Kaikoura is the spot where Maui placed his foot to steady himself while he ‘fished up’ the North Island. Archaeological remains found there, indicate that around 900 years ago the peninsula was inhabited by moa hunters; and early Maori settlements were established in response to the region’s abundant food sources. Whale Watch today serves as the perfect reminder of what can be achieved when a small community takes charge of its own destiny; and what happens when the natural world is revered rather than exploited.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prized Possession

One Small Decorative Cloak
On Display
Wellington. April 2009. Ajr

Meet the People - 11

Stewart Island Feb 2009 Ajr
Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary ThingsPhillip Smith (Ngati Mamoe, Waitaha, Ngai Tahu) can be found at the helm of his boat MV Wildfire almost every day of the week. Based at Oban on Rakiura (Stewart Island), Phillip – a fifth generation islander – runs the kiwi spotting operation Bravo Adventure Cruises at Little Glory Bay in Paterson Inlet. He’s been doing that since 1990 and in that time he’s introduced over 20,000 people to one of our most precious birds in the wild. Before that he focussed on fishing and hunting charters around the island; and he’s also had a stint working at the island’s salmon farms. Suffice to say he knows Stewart Island like the back of his hand. There isn’t a bay, a beach or a stretch of land on this large southern island off the coast of Southland that he hasn’t explored.
In addition to his tourism activities, Phillip is also a trustee of the Rakiura Maori Land Trust and one of the tangata tiaki (guardians) of the Te Whaka a Te Wera Mataitai – a customary fisheries reserve that was gazetted in 2004, which aims to restore and protect the fish stocks of Paterson Inlet for all New Zealanders. He’s passionate about that – about conservation in general in fact – and he’s worked hard to help rid Stewart Island of predators that prey on kiwi.
Stewart Island Feb 2009 Ajr
“We’re lucky here on Stewart Island to have over 25,000 tokoeka (South Island Brown Kiwi); they’re not endangered here as they are on the mainland but we want to make sure it stays that way. There’s nowhere else in New Zealand where you can walk along a sandy beach at night and see kiwi hunting for sandhoppers among the seaweed,” he says. Phillip makes no guarantees that you’ll see a kiwi on one of his trips but his strike rate hovers around 98%. “We almost always see one or two kiwi. The most we’ve spotted in one night is seven and there are other treats like Hooker sea lions, seals and little rock hopper penguins. There’s always something to see,” he says.

Door Design

A Decorative Door
Back Alley, Napier
July 2008 Ajr

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Traditional Delicacy

Believe it or not, these rather ugly little things are a Maori delicacy! Lamprey (Geotria australis) has multiple ‘identities.’ It is also known as the lamprey eel and to most southern Maori it is kanakana – although it is also known as nainai in the Temuka/Waihao Marae area; and in the North Island it is called piharau. Long considered a delicacy by Maori it is also widely eaten in Portugal, Spain, France, Scandanavia, the Baltic countries and in South Korea; and King Henry I of England is said to have died from “a surfeit of lampreys.” I was introduced to these slimy little devils at the Hokonui Marae in February, when we travelled there to write and photograph another kai feature for Ngai Tahu’s magazine Te Karaka.
Kanakana. Hokonui Marae, Gore. Feb 2009. Ajr
I had never seen them before – certainly never tasted them; and I’m almost ashamed to say, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I was completely put off by their awful little sucker-mouths filled with tiny razor-like teeth. But the Hokonui kaumatua were delighted. They don’t get kanakana quite as much as they used to and despite the fact that chef, Jason Dell hadn’t cooked them before, they seemed more than satisfied with their hearty lunch. They may not have been expecting their kanakana to come with marsala potato, warm parsnip salad and chilli and lime baked gurnard - (they’re used to simply pan-frying them fresh from the river) - but the verdict was unanimous – for his first time cooking kanakana Jason Dell had done pretty well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Discovering North Island Marae

Bulls, North Island. April 2009 Ajr
I'm in the thick of the North Island now and when I got to Bulls, just north of Palmerston North, I veered off the highway and turned down into a little gully, where I found this very pretty scene - Parewahawaha Marae, tucked into a leafy rural backdrop. There was nobody about so I was unable to find out any of the marae's history; but sometimes a photo is enough.

Land's End - Muriwhenua

Cape Maria van Diemen Image couresty ExploreNZ
Cape Reinga Lighthouse. Image Courtesy Explore NZ

Maori called Northland Muriwhenua or Land’s End; and right at the tip, Cape Reinga was declared the tapu (sacred) place, where the spirits of the dead departed on their journey to the after-life in the spiritual homeland of Hawaiiki. They were said to leap from the 800-year-old pohutukawa tree that grows (for immortality according to Maori mythology), in a rocky cleft on the tip of the cape. Hence the alternative Maori name for the cape: Te Rerenga Wairua, or the leaping-off place of spirits. The Maori word reinga means underworld, or abode of departed spirits. The only two images I have of this area currently are of the Cape Reinga lighthouse and nearby Cape Maria van Diemen, which is just to the west of Cape Reinga and looks a little similar.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Maori Market Wares

Maori Hair Combs
Made to Traditional Designs
In Bone and Wood
Cathedral Square Market
March 2009. Ajr

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sing Along.....

.... with Maurice Manawatu
of Kaikoura's Maori Tours

Decorative Pou

Christchurch Polytechnic. march 2009. Ajr
I was out biking around the city a week or so ago and stopped to photograph this very decorative pou (carved pole) outside Te Puna Wanaka, the new Faculty of Maori at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moments in History

Kaiapoi Pa Memorial. March 2009. Ajr
When you stand in the grassy field that was once home to the old Kaiapoi Pa – in front of this immense and haunting memorial – it’s interesting to reflect upon the fact that it was once a bustling, ancient ‘industrial site,’ where Ngai Tahu ancestors imported and worked the prized pounamu for their own use and trade. The pa site was established by Turakautahi around the year 1700, after Ngai Tahu crossed over from the North Island. Originally called The Nest of Kaikai-a-Waro, Turakautahi’s descendants later changed the name to Kaiapohia, which became commonly known as Kaiapoi. It was regarded as the chief Ngai Tahu stronghold and, surrounded by waterways and wetlands on three sides, it provided a bountiful food supply of fish and birds. The pa was eventually destroyed by Te Rauparaha’s raids in 1832 and many lives were lost.

March 2009. Ajr
Today when you stand there, you’re likely to hear ‘industrial activities’ of a different kind – the massive nearby development of Pegasus Town, which has in fact, unearthed an archaeological site thought to pre-date Ngai Tahu. The ancient pa site was discovered on the site of planned golf course for the new town; but thanks to co-operation between developers and cultural advisors for Ngai Tahu and Te Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga, that’s now been moved saving the important cultural relics from destruction. The first major discovery – a burnt pou (post) is now at Auckland University, where it is being conserved and protected; and it is hoped that all archaeological finds will eventually be housed in a purpose-built whare taonga (cultural house) near the unearthed pa.


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