Monday, December 13, 2010
Meet the People - 30
Another in the Series Meet the People - Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Michael Bradley (Rangitane) and his wife, Lynette (Ngati Porou), have made it their mission to restore pride in the Rangitane iwi and to reconnect iwi members with their past. To that end, they've established Shark Nett Gallery, on the outskirts of Havelock at the top of the South Island, where they are displaying a phenomenal collection of Rangitane carvings, all commissioned and completed in the last twenty years.
"The purpose of the collection was to ensure our children and grandchildren were exposed to the traditional and contemporary carvings, drawings and paintings that are linked to their heritage in the Kaituna, Hoiere, Ana Mahunga, Totaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound), Wairau (Blenheim) districts and to confirm their blood ties with those previous occupiers and owners of land from D'Urville Island to the Clarence River, whose history stretches back 1,000 years," says Michael. Carvers were commissioned to reproduce the traditional history of the Rangitane people of the Marlborough Sounds; and the focus of the carvings is on the ancestors of significance and other important local stories of significance.
All that started twenty years ago and since then, Michael and Lynette have established a collection that is believed to be one of the largest privately-owned collections (not for sale) in the world. Carving is ongoing and most has been produced by carvers Paul Johnson (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Kuri), Ari Liddington (Ngati Toa), Carl Macdonald (Rangitane) and Matthew Grant (Rangitane). Michael also started carving five years ago and all wood used is sourced from the Kaituna and Hoiere Rivers of Havelock and most is matai or totara.
"Much of the art we had as a people was lost through confiscation, theft and damage in previous centuries," says Michael. "I wanted to restore pride in our iwi and reconnect us with out past, so when I was working as the Rangitane Chairman, I set up a wood carving course so carvers could begin telling the tribe's history." Since then, the couple have accumulated over 200 carvings, 70 of which are now on display in their Havelock gallery. They also display a wide range of feather korowai (cloaks) made by Ngati Koata. Small carved items, other wooden items and a selection of bone and whale bone products are also for sale. They offer tours of the gallery twice a day and they're now planning to add a cafe to the complex. The gallery is at 129 Queen Charlotte Drive and is open from 10am-4pm daily with guided tours at 11am and 2pm.