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Tohunga Whakairo Rākau Clive Fugill Receives New Zealand Royal Honour For Māori Art

Tohunga Whakairo Rākau (Master Carver) Clive Fugill was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori Art at Government House on Friday, afterwards reconnecting with the whānau of Hoani Waititi Marae, 44 years after carving Ngā Tūmanako

The Investiture Ceremony with Her Excellency The Governor-General of New Zealand, The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro at Government House in Auckland. Tohunga Whakairo Rākau Clive Fugill is made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori Art.Photo/Supplied.

Fugill (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rangiwewehi) has been with the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) since its first intake in 1967. At 75 years old today, he still provides guidance and support for the NZMACI teaching staff and passes down his knowledge through lectures across the three wānanga of wood, stone and bone carving and weaving. He receives this honour, 64 years after his teacher, Tohunga Whakairo Rākau Hōne Te KāuruTaiapa received an MBE for wood carving himself.

Hōne and Fugill worked together for 13 years and when HōneTaiapa was very ill in hospital, he had asked Fugill to finish carving Ngā Tūmanako wharenui at Hoani Waititi Marae for him in West Auckland, which Fugill did, finishing in 1980. On Friday afternoon after the investiture ceremony, Fugillwent there with Te Puia | NZMACI to reconnect.

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He says receiving the CNZM makes him feel honoured, humble and thankful.

“I hope this is a motivation for these young fellas, the tauira, to keep doing what they’re doing,” he says.

He also has a serious regard and dedication to the reason why he’s here, doing this mahi, and he shares this with everyone around him.

“It’s interesting that this Royal New Zealand Honour has come around now - it’s 60 years since the 1963 New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Act was passed in Parliament. The Act’s purpose is to preserve, promote and perpetuate Māori arts, crafts and culture - it is the very thing that pushes me to do what I do. To keep the Act alive and active.”

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute general manager Eraia Kiel says Friday’s invesititure ceremony was an important moment in Māori history.

“For us, Koro Clive embodies the sacred responsibility we have at NZMACI of preserving our country’s heritage and traditions, he is our connection between our past, present and future.

“It was a privilege to go to Ngā Tūmanako wharenui and to see Koro Clive speaking to the whānau of Hoani Waititi marae and pointing to the carvings he’d done. He explained how all the poupou represent the different tribal carving styles of Aotearoa and he shared Hōne Taiapa’s unique kōwhaiwhaipattern and wharenui decisions.

“There was a wairua about being inside Ngā Tūmanako with the whānau including the tamariki, Tā Pita Sharples and other descendants of those kuia and koroua who contributed to the whare that brought tears to his eyes. It meant a lot to Koro Clive to return 44 years later and to see his close friend TāPita who used to drive him from Rotorua to Auckland during the carving of the wharenui.

“It was also a fitting link, that Ngā Tūmanako wharenui has some direct replicas of Te Aronui-a-Rua wharenui at Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, like the kōwhaiwhai and other aspects of the wharenui. Hōne had asked Clive to draw and take copies of Te Aronui-a-Ruawharenui, which he did. Koro Clive and his father even harvested some of the kiekie for the tukutuku panels at NgāTūmanako wharenui - there are so many deep connections.”

Tā Sharples gave a whaikōrero which meant a lot to everyone there, as he was a driving force in the building of Hoani Waititi Marae, which was the country's first urban marae at the time. He also led the establishment of kura kaupapaeducation, Māori immersion education, and set up kohanga reo and kura kaupapa primary and secondary schools at Hoani Waititi.

Fugill and Tā Sharples enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect.

As for Fugill’s presence at NZMACI – he’s known for thesparkle in his eyes, a cheeky smile and a kind and welcoming way about him.

The moment you start talking to Fugill about carving, the meaning of patterns or anything in the realm of Māori art, he opens up with a wealth of knowledge from years of learning and meticulous record keeping - you know you’re privileged in that moment to hear it all from him. The tauira respect Fugill deeply and greet him each morning with a hug or a hōngi and “Mōrena chiefy.”

Fugill says when you’re at NZMACI, you never stop learning.

“I learn from everybody, including the tauira - I like to look at it as a sharing process. They’ll come up with stuff I've never heard before and I’ll say “Oh, wow I didn't know that,” and I’ll write it in my little notebook I carry around so it’s captured.”

Keeping records is one of Fugill’s remarkable skills. For example, when he first started, a lot of wharenui (meeting houses) were carved and no photos or records were being kept at the time, so he started doing it.

“I’d go out on the floor with newsprint on a clipboard and I would draw all the poupou and meeting houses, then I’d go home and put it in a book. It’s the only records of the work done in those times in the 60s and 70s, including Mataatuawharenui, Mokotangatakotahi in Te Puke and Ngā Tūmanakowharenui at Hoani Waititi Marae.”

Fugill arrived at Ngā Tūmanako wharenui on Friday with his original hand drawings which were shared with everyone.

Renowned for this approach, Clive is working on a book at the moment called Whākairo Carving, he says unlike other books with photos, this one will only feature his hand drawings of carvings.

“I’m thankful for the fact I’ve been able to give something back at a time when we’ve been reviving Māori culture.

“I’ve had an amazing career, but I’ve always tried to stick to the principles of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Act and to the ideologies and skills that my masterHōne had taught me. I’ve tried to maintain that – it has been my main goal.

“As Hōne said when we started - you come here to learn this art to pass it on to the next generation. I’ve never forgottenthat and it’s what I’ve tried to do - most of my life has centredaround that.

“I know the importance of the information that I’ve gathered over the years – it’s not for me, it has to be shared and that’s why here at NZMACI we’re archiving all my records at the moment and creating a manual of it all for tauira. It includes information on carving, kōwhaiwhai, tukutuku, pātakaconstruction, house construction, waka construction, meanings of surface design patterns and weaving - that can be shared for future knowledge which is in accordance with the Act.”

When asked about his favourite projects, he says working on his own meeting house – for his own people.

“That is the highlight for any carver,” he explains.

He worked on Hangarau in Tauranga in 1967, Tahuwhakatikiin 1976 and Tūtereinga in Te Puna in 1990.

Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute chief executive Tim Cossar says Clive has lived his life dedicated to the Act of Parliament Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau exists for and from Clive’s perspective it is critical to see the Government continue to support the Act and keep it active.

“Clive embodies the spirit and the intent of the Act of Parliament we sit under. He knows how important it is to keep the legacy going to ensure continuity through time by continuing to pass on the IP and knowledge that NZMACI has created and protected. As a centre of excellence for Māori arts, crafts and culture, NZMACI is as important today as ever.”

Ngā Tūmanako wharenui at Hoani Waititi Marae. L – R: Tuini Hakaraia, Dr Ken Kennedy, Hare Rua, Clive Fugill, Tā Dr Pita Sharples, Eraia Kiel, Bev Manahi, Tim Cossar, Tupara Morrison.

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