Matariki flags raised

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

Matariki is be­ing marked by a glimpse into his­toric Maori ar­chi­tec­ture.

Thanks to the in­ge­nu­ity of a dozen ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents, Auck­land’s wa­ter­front is sport­ing a tra­di­tional Maori struc­ture not seen since the 1800s.

The Matariki Pa­parewa pro­ject saw 26 bam­boo flag masts built around the Silo Park gantry by stu­dents from Unitec’s Te Hononga Maori Ar­chi­tec­ture Stu­dio.

Stu­dent Jade Kake says the struc­ture ref­er­ences a tra­di­tional pa­parewa teitei – pa­parewa mean­ing thin and teitei mean­ing tall.

‘‘Th­ese were in­cred­i­ble feats of Maori ar­chi­tec­ture and en­gi­neer­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘The last recorded one was in 1841 in the Bay of Is­lands which was 40 me­tres high at its high­est point. And they were for hui of up to 4000 peo­ple so for the hosts they were a way of show­ing your man­aaki and of show­ing your wealth.’’

The Matariki Pa­parewa was un­veiled this month to co­in­cide with Maori New Year.

The struc­ture in­cludes seven taller masts with flags rep­re­sent­ing the seven stars of the Matariki con­stel­la­tion that rises in early June mark­ing the new year’s start.

Ms Kake says as well as re­viv­ing a tra­di­tional struc­ture it is hoped it will spark dis­cus­sion of Maori is­sues.

‘‘One of them is the vis­i­bil­ity of mana whenua in the built en­vi­ron­ment. If you walk around Auck­land there’s re­ally not much of it, you could be any­where.’’

The stu­dents also want to raise dis­cus­sion about how Auck­land’s iwi and sub­tribes repo­si­tioned them­selves as kaiti­aki, or guardians, af­ter last year’s treaty set­tle­ments saw 14 vol­canic cones and four is­lands re­turned to Maori.

‘‘So we are try­ing to gen­er­ate some aware­ness and con­ver­sa­tion about th­ese is­sues and of course cel­e­brat­ing Matariki which is a re­ally im­por­tant time of year.’’

Fel­low stu­dent Ak­shay Shah says to build the struc­ture the class found a bam­boo field that sold the ma­te­rial to them cheaply.

Mr Ak­shay says they cut bam­boo into 25m lengths, short­ened them fur­ther then tied them into threes strength.

‘‘So they are tele­scoped and they are bun­dled so it acts as one unit,’’ he says.

‘‘And it goes all the way up to 21m at the top of the green flag.’’

Ms Kake says the end re­sult ap­pears de­cep­tively sim­ple.

‘‘Peo­ple think it is just flag­poles but we spent a week in a bam­boo for­est and a week on site, and it was just in­sane. It’s harder than it looks.’’

Tra­di­tion­ally a pa­parewa teitei would have been an A-frame but this struc­ture is built against The Gantry as part of the fifth Auck­land Tri­en­nial which runs un­til Au­gust 11.

Matariki Pa­parewa dis­play un­til July 21.

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Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Stand­ing tall: Unitec ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents Jade Kake and Ak­shay Shah stand in front of the Matariki Pa­parewa they built with their class­mates.

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