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Giant pou towers at The Dowse

Giant pou towers at The Dowse

16 April 2015

Reweti Arapere: Rangimatua (2015). Photographer: Mark Tantrum

Visitors to The Dowse Art Museum are awe-struck by the scale of a new pou by artist Reweti Arapere (Ngati Raukawa te au ki te Tonga, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Porou) on show until 2 August 2015. Standing 4 metres high, Rangimatua (Sky father), represents a giant tiki that depicts the Māori creation myth.

Keeping Māoritanga relevant for future generations, connecting people to their heritage and each other is central to Arapere’s work. Referencing customary whakairo (carving), the artist swaps wood for cardboard, an everyday material that is accessible and easy to use. Instead of carving, he adorns his pieces with felt pens to mimic street art, a visual language to catch the eyes and minds of rangatahi (young people).

Palmerston North based Arapere positions Rangimatua alongside Nuku Tewhatewha - the pataka commissioned in support of the Kingitanga movement that resides at The Dowse. By doing this, he makes connections that contemplate lessons from the past about the importance of whānau and working together.

Director of The Dowse, Courtney Johnston says the new work by an emerging artist is an exciting project for the museum. “Reweti Arapere has created a fantastic work for The Dowse that is truly awe-inspiring. Not only because of the scale but also the layered visual language he has created that speaks especially to young audiences. The emphasis on whānau will appeal to the many families who visit the museum. Staying connected is a universal value that crosses all cultures.”

Rangimatua is layered with customary and contemporary symbols including animals, feathers, sneakers and a baseball cap. The imagery tells the story of Ranginui, separated from his wife Papatuanuku by their children. The stars symbolise Ranginui’s eternal place in the sky. They are his children who look after their descendants from above, sending guidance in the form of navigation and spirituality. By adapting these narratives in a way that younger generations can relate to, Arapere shows how myth and history continue to shape an evolving Māori cultural identity.

Reweti Arapere: Rangimatua until 2 August 2015


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