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  • Writer's pictureTania Larsen

Nga Rongo o te Mauri - part 1

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

This collaboration by West Auckland artists brings together art, sound and storytelling. The sounds of nature; the running streams, birdlife and wind are combined with Taonga puoro (traditional māori instruments) that have been recorded by renowned master Riki Bennett. These recordings have been set into three 'hue' which have been hand crafted and designed to play as people are drawn to the to story board.

The Story

The Hue

The hue ( gourds ) are guardians of the ancient pūrākau telling the story of the beautiful gardens at Te Henga which belonged to Panuku and his wife Parekura. These illustrious ancestors of mana whenua Te Kawerau a maki were exalted throughout the district for growing Kumara,Taro and Hue.

The Opanuku stream or known as Te Wai o Panuku which starts its journey in Te Wao nui a Tiriwa ( Waitakere ranges ) and flows through the Henderson district was named after Panuku, while above this stream is a hill called Parekura in remembrance of his wife Parekura.

Whakairo design patterns

The three design patterns by Te Kawerau a maki carver / artist John Collins, and digitally resolved by dam, tells of the time Parekura was captured by Nihotupu (a Patupaiarehe, or mystical fairy formed being). Nihotipu had laid plans to steal the ripe Hue from there gardens but on capturing sight of Parekura, also lead her away. But Nihotipu pulled feathers from her korowai ( cloak ) as a trail which her husband Panuku was later able to follow to free her and return with her to their village.

Te Wai o Panuku stream eventually joins the Te Wai Horotiu stream or Oratia stream, the design patterns tells of the rich food resources these two streams provided the people and the lush vegetation overhanging the trail another resource for both medicinal and food plants.

The famous gardens are represented in the stylised hue form spreading its ever growing tendrils across the land.

Rongo – Sounds

The bird calls tell of how this area once was with the abundence of bird life prior to Development, Te Kawerau a maki hope that one day that all people as kaitiaki ( guardians ) will help in rejuvinating and maintaining the natural landscape of the area.

The sounds of taonga puoro ( Māori musical instruments ) embody the wairua or spiritual essence of a time gone by whilst also acknowledging the present and the future.

Being damcreative

With a broad and general background in design and construction, we were able to pull in and work with some really talented artizans. It's one thing to have skills that cross a multi-discipline of art and design, but it is totaling humbling when you get to be involved with artists at the top of their craft. So to make a long story shorter, we thought we'd share pictures and a few words to show how we contributed.

the designs

The Master Carver - John Collins

Working with John is always so chilled. But, you're always wary when you have to intepret the feel and flow of another artist, while replicating the same look on a completely different medium with different techniques.

Replicating John's designs onto a round surface was always going to be a little tricky. So after hours of redrawing and adjustments for consistency and flow (if you look carefully there is a slightly different flow and relationship between elements and the actual elements themselves in each design). The result looks something like this:

to be cont'd in part 2...

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