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Manos Nathan Salutes Maori Warriors Still On Crete

Manos Nathan Salutes Maori Warriors Still On Crete

Researching his father's war history with the 28th Maori Battalion during the Crete Campaign has inspired leading contemporary Maori artist Manos Nathan to "do something for New Zealand soldiers who never came home".

As one of New Zealand's leading contemporary clay artists, Manos Nathan opens an exhibition at Pataka Museum in Porirua this Saturday March 9 called Reflection: Battle of Crete 1941. The exhibition has a general focus on the futility of war.

Many of his pieces blend writing and symbols of peace from Maori, Minoan (an ancient civilisation on Crete) English and German.

To reinforce the linkages between Maori and Crete he has cleverly worked out a story within his artwork that uses Minoan characters. Each character represents a syllable, which means it can also be read in Maori as a "bit of fun".

Manos and his brothers were first taken back to Crete in the late 1950s. Subsequent visits have enabled Manos to examine the Greek side of his ancestry. His attendance at the official 60th Anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Crete in 2001 and participation on the Crete veterans' Pilgrimage in 2006 were the triggers for his latest collection.

He was also able to see a mirror image of himself through the eyes of the enemy when he met the son of a German soldier who also wanted to discover his father's history in the Battle of Crete. Manos was surprised at the broad knowledge and respect the German held for the Maori Battalion during the 1941 Battle of Crete.

During the war Manos' father fell in love with a young Cretan woman, whom he brought home to Waimamaku in the Hokianga, North Auckland, as his bride. This love story has been turned into a book by Patricia Grace, which will be launched in October at the second biennial MAORI MARKet being staged in Porirua at the Te Rauparaha Arena.

MAORI MARKet was previously held in San Francisco City in 2005 and Wellington City in 2007.

Darcy Nicholas, the Creative Director for MAORI MARKet comments that Manos Nathan is the only artist in the history of world art to combine the beauty of Maori and Greek imagery into a contemporary art form. They are "beautiful and unique shapes".

Mr Nicholas says Manos is one of New Zealand's leading contemporary Maori artists, who has exhibited comprehensively throughout the world and who was gaining an international following of major art collectors.

Manos Nathan is a former Fullbright Scholar who has studied indigenous Native American and Pacific art forms.


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