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Taonga (Statues) Unveiled Tomorrow

Tuesday 15 June 2004

Pacific Business Trust Taonga (Statues) Unveiled Tomorrow

Seven Pacific statues will be unveiled tomorrow as part of the opening celebrations for the new Pacific Business Trust Business Centre in Otahuhu, Auckland.

The five metre statues were created in 1988 to represent the different links that Pacific people have with Maori. Each statue reflects the oral histories relating to the Pacific sea deity - Tangaroa. Originally positioned along the driveway entrance to the Trust, the carvings stood the test of time outside without blemish or grafitti.

They have now been moved near the doorway of the new Business Centre which carries on the oceanic theme of the carvings with a traditional vaka (canoe) entrance.

Restoration work began on the carvings two months ago by Richard Cooper, the Fine Arts head at Manukau's Te Wananga O Aotearoa, and several of his family members. Initial work included repainting and restaining wood as well as fixing paua eyes.

"Each carving represents our cultures, ancestors and people of the Pacific Islands," says Cooper. "It gives our people something to connect to. The carvings give mana to the Pacific Business Trust Business Centre complex and act like guardians over the refurbished building."

Former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Apii Rongo Raea, says the idea for the carvings was borne out of the issue of Maori and Pacific Island identity.

"For this reason the Tangaroa (tangata whenua) statue was positioned first to warmly greet and welcome peoples onto the Trust's business home. The respective ancestors not only served that purpose but cared for and kept the site warm. Their new positions in the current premises follow the same pattern," says Raea.

The carvings will be unveiled with a formal Maori blessing tomorrow morning (Wednesday 15 June at 11.00 am) followed by traditional Pacific Island oratory. The details of the carvings are:

TANGAROA - TANGATA WHENUA

Crafted by Te Kotahitangi Kokiri Maori Carving School Tutor Pat Kake Carvers Joe Heke and John Proctor The top figure is Tangaroa who bought the first carvings of Maoridom to Aotearoa. At the base is Hoturoa the tohunga on the waka Tainui. It was he who brought his people to settle in these parts.

O KOYA MAI WASA - FIJI

Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Carver Naibuka Taitaru "He who comes from the Sea" depicts Naibuka's personal interpretation of stories of the ocean.

NGUZUNGUZU - SOLOMONS

Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Carver Steven Gwaliasi The navigator who occupies the bow of the vaka. The primary role is that of protector to ensure safe passage.

TAGALOA - SAMOA Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Carver Fatu Feu'u Fatu's well known depiction of the god of the sea also features symbols that link the past and present to the future.

TAGALOA - NIUE

Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Pou Donated by Malcolm Douglas Carvers Palalagitoa Manetoa with son Jack Tagaloa captures the many stories of Niuean history. Basic patterns are from hiapa-tapa. The shell on the forehead represents a "warrior, mana, godly" status. The branches at the base and at the back of the head represent the old and the new. The luku-fern plan signifies life in art.

TANGAROA - COOK ISLANDS

Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Carver Ian George Ian has created the well know Polynesian god 'Tangaroa' at the top and with him at the base is 'Tangiia' - linking the stories of the Cook Islands to Tahiti and other Polynesian islands.

KAWATAANGA - TONGA

Crafted by Tautai Pacific Contemporary Arts Trust Carver Filipe Tohi The beginning, the Creator is a well known figure in Tongan history.

ENDS

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