Te Kaha Mauri / 27 April - 21 May 2011

Te Kaha
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Mauri is the resting place of the life force. The energy, the breath of creation that permeates all.

The world's creation - the separation of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother - is the very beginning of the story of humanity. The essence of life is conceived in the fabric of nature and the first human is formed from the earth.
The many atua endow humanity with various physical, intellectual and emotional attributes and so we become their heirs. The events of their lives become our history.
The atua exhibited in Mauri are significant figures in many oral histories and are presented in the form of Pounamu hei-tiki. Pounamu is a primarily green stone that occurs naturally on the West Coast of the South Island of Aotearoa and can be classified as nephrite, bowenite and serpentine. Tangata whenua names for these stones reference their location and colouring, and stories of adventure and loss accompany the many varieties of this highly prized mineral.
A hei-tiki can be viewed as a stylized representation of a tipuna that is worn suspended from the neck. The carved figure can reference specific aspects of a single ancestor or suggest an amalgamation of features of various significant figures. Within the relatively uniform hei-tiki structure great artistic variety is possible. However while representation of the head, limbs and torso vary regionally, depiction of the senses is a dominant factor in all. Sense perception allows humans to connect with tipuna on many levels. The importance placed on the representation of the hands, eyes, nose, mouth and sometimes ears is not to be underestimated in the hei-tiki form.
Mauri seeks to engage with the atua through their hei-tiki appearance and rediscover interconnecting whakapapa.

Kia ora.


These Pounamu hei-tiki are physical representations of the various deeds, accomplishments and histories of their atua namesakes. The nature of oral histories in Aotearoa means that history differs amongst many people. Mauri relates the Tuhoe oral histories of the creation of humanity as understood by Te Kaha and translated by Georgina Barr.

Tane Mahuta, Tane the horizon creator, gave clarity to the world. He not only allowed light to physically enter the world by separating Ranginui and Papatuanuku - he also gave the light of knowledge and understanding to the world in the form of thought and reasoning.
Tane-Toro-Kaha, residing in a realm of male energies, desired to create a human female. His search began by mating with animals, plants and minerals in an attempt to find the uwha, the historical female element. His quest eventually led him to his mother, Papatuanuku where he found the uwha in the kurawaka and formed the first woman. Tane’s sixty-nine brothers, the other sons of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, then all brought gifts to this woman and with the first breath she became the first human Hine-Ahu-One.
Tane-Toro-Kaha and Hine-Ahu-One inhabited together and had many children. Hine-Ahu-One created life from her body and being the first to do so is known as the whare tangata, the home of man.
One of their daughters was Hine-Ti-Tama, the Dawn Goddess. The epitome of grace and beauty she was so lovely that her father, Tane, desired her as his wife.
When Hine-Ti-Tama eventually discovered the truth, that her husband was also her father, she is horrified and disgusted. She went into a state of
kuuwatawata (someone who makes an important, irrevocable decision) and physically and emotionally faded away from the light - entering the world of darkness.
Both Tane Wairoa and Kuuwatawata, the underworld guardian and representation of irrevocable life change, help her on her journey. First Tane Waiora assisted her in fleeing and then Kuuwatawata heard her korero and was compassionate to her plight, letting her into the underworld. It was in this realm, so unlike her previous world, that Hine-Ti-Tama’s transformation was complete and she became Hine-Nui-Te-Po, the strong and powerful mother of the night.
As her mother created life from within herself, Hine-Nui-Te-Po’s transformation fulfils the prophetic untold story of Tiki - what is born of woman, dies.

For more information please contact Georgina at the gallery: georgina@johnleechgallery.co.nz