Sperm whale bone carving by
Christopher "Kiri" Matatahi
This work depicts the spiritual realm of korekore, the dwelling place of the ancient Maori deities, and of Io-Matua-Kore (Supreme being) who governed the "natural" environment of man. Man lived every day life from birth, devoted to the service of one or more departmental guardians which had accepted the child at birth. (For instance, if one was devoted to Rongo, then they would be dedicated to the peaceful endeavours of agriculture and healing, etc).
Designs have been used in the form of koru (fern fronds) - to depict life and growth; kowhaiwhai - to relay genealogical links; pitau - to show umbilical links, and have been formed in such a way as to show continuation and flow. Eyes have been included to help to identify each deity’s place within the work.
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Tangaroa - God of Oceans and Marine Life - is depicted stretched out, bathing in the rays of Te Ra - the Sun. Ao-Marama - the Moon - incorporates rafter patterns (kowhaiwhai) in this instance, to show intellectual skills. Ruaumoko - (Eye in back) - God of peace and agriculture, also of man - is depicted by the fingers of his hand as he embraced all life. Tawhirimatea - God of thermal activity and volcanoes and fire - is represented by the three volcanoes in the central plateau of the National Park, in symbolic circles. Top Right Right Uenuku-Kahukura - Son of Te Ra - God of wisdom and knowledge, and spiritual learning - is personified by a rainbow. Tane Mahuta - God of forests, birdlife and man - is shown here separating his father Rangi, and mother Papa-Tua-Nuku. Left Front Haumia-Tikitiki - Guardian of wild plant foods, i.e. puha, pikopiko and plant medicines. Rangi - Sky-father - embracing Papa-Tua-Nuku - Earth-mother. Rangi is on the bottom front, shown by a large koru design, topped by a double spiral niho-kuri - a dog tooth notch is used, and Papa-Tua-Nuku is depicted being pulled away to enable Tane’s brothers and sisters to leave the womb. The row of piko, or new ferns, represent her children and descendants. Papa has a single spiral attached with niho-taniwha - dragon tooth notching. Bottom Left Top Left Whatitiri - Goddess of thunder and lightning - is depicted bellowing out her call, and unleashing lightning bolts as earth and sky are parted. Rehua - Deity of pure water, well springs and fresh water tributaries.
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