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Matariki Star Waka sculpture blessed at dawn

Matariki Star Waka sculpture blessed at dawn ceremony

Star sculpture
Click to enlarge

The first faint blush of dawn backdrops the new Star Waka sculpture blessed at Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre and Library today (Monday June 26, 2006).

Star sculpture
Click to enlarge

Star Waka Artists Dion Hitchens (left) and Charles Koroneho are dwarfed by their soaring waka sculpture.

Star Sculpture, Jim
Click to enlarge

Kaumatua Jim Rauwhero, representing mana whenua, blesses the Star Waka sculpture during a dawn ceremony this morning (Monday June 26, 2006).

Media Release
26 June 2006

Matariki Star Waka sculpture blessed at dawn ceremony

There was a collective gasp, then spontaneous applause as the Star Waka sculpture at Manukau City Council’s Te Matariki Clendon Community Centre and Library was publicly lit for the first time during a blessing ceremony at dawn this morning (Monday June 26).

The impressive standing waka has a silvery aluminium hull that is inset with a fibre optic star field depicting the southern sky. The constellations are linked by lines that help define their shape and relationship (as in astronomy charts). However, the stars that make up Matariki, because they are a cluster not a constellation, are differentiated by not having the linking lines. The stars are of varying sizes and brightness to accurately reflect the way they appear in the night sky.

For designers and artists Charles Koroneho and Dion Hitchens, the lighting and blessing of the sculpture was the culmination of a year’s work designing, planning, consulting with engineers and fibre optics experts, and crafting the work.

Charles Koroneho told the gathering of mana whenua, people from the arts community and council and community board representatives that there are accounts of invading waka, captured or abandoned during warfare, or sometimes fishing waka, later being planted upright in the ground as standing monuments in more peaceful times.

“They were transformed into objects of remembrance, marking places of historic or spiritual importance where the community gathered to conduct ceremonies, tell stories and share knowledge,” he said. “This seemed a very fitting theme for a community building and library named Matariki.”

The sleek sculpture, although built of aluminium with a core of steel to give it strength, and inset with high tech computer programmed fibre optics, still incorporates much of the ancient design concepts used in building waka, Koroneho said.

“It has beams and braces to give it shape and strength just like a real waka.”

Kaumatua Jim Rauwhero, who led the blessing ceremony on behalf of Manurewa mana whenua, said it was a magnificent artwork with deep significance. He predicted it would become a community icon that would draw people to it.

Council Director of Community Ian Maxwell said after the ceremony that the blessing of the Star Waka was the completion of a wonderful community facility for Clendon. “The building’s strong cultural links into the land and the people - represented in its design, motifs and artwork – is a model for the successful blending of practical community need with art and culture to create an aesthetic, welcoming and useable whole.”

Koroneho, Hitchens and Associates public sculptures are also featured in Manukau Square and at Onehunga.


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