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Design student donates carving to Kuratini marae

Design student donates carving to Kuratini marae


Carver Ranga Tuhi works on the pou tuarongo. The pou is intentionally obscured in the picture prior to the unveiling. Picture – William Franco


Friday, July 11, 2008
Design student donates carving to Kuratini marae

After nearly 20 years of existence without a formal carving, the Wellington campus' Te Kuratini Marae will receive its first carved pou – a donation from the carver.

The 2.4m pou tuarongo (post symbolising the tangata whenua or home people) was created by carver and design student Ranga Tuhi (Waikato, Ngäti Maniapoto).

It will be installed and blessed by local elders at a dawn ceremony on Tuesday and unveiled in front of University staff and students later that morning.

Mr Tuhi says the pou, a koha, is his way of giving back to the marae. “Since I started studying here five years ago, I felt the house needed to be clothed and needed a pou. The pou tuarongo is important for tangata whenua and is the backbone to marae activities.

“The reason I decided to create the pou was to unite staff and students and strengthen the sense of community around the marae. There is a strong bond between carvers and marae. A carver has an obligation or responsibility to marae, particularly those without carvings.”

He says modern processes as well as materials were used. “This pou stands 2.4m tall and, instead of kauri, is carved out of customwood. It’s more difficult to work with in a lot of ways because it is like soft butter and there is not much room for error.”

He will also leave documentation about the pou and its development with marae staff to inform future students and staff about the carving process and why and how it was made. This will include drawings of the surface pattern and design, which includes three main figures. The bottom figure features the goddess of death, Hine Nui Te Po. Above her is a likeness of Maui, the demigod in his quest for immortality for mankind – a quest in which he failed and was killed by Hine Nui Te Po. A figure of the goddess features again at the top of the pou.

Associate Professor Ross Hemera, the College of Creative Arts’ Kaiwhakaahua (Director of Mäori Development), says the pou tuarongo is one of the most important pou in a whare as it depicts the culmination of the Mäori life cycle.

“Gifting the piece to the marae is very honourable. The marae provides a Mäori context on campus for design students and pou are created as a living piece of work, and need the marae to bring it to life,” says Mr Hemera.

Mr Hemera says the pou is also a fantastic example of what can be achieved through the University’s Toi Ätea programme. “The piece is quite close to what you might expect to see in customary whakairo (carving). A lot of the references and aspects he uses are drawn from customary whakairo practice, and therefore, he is to be commended for his desire to work within an institutional teaching and learning environment.”

The pou will be unveiled at a ceremony at 10.30am on 15 July at Te Kuratini Marae.

ENDS

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