Carv­ing con­nec­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KARINA ABADIA

CARV­ING is more than an in­ter­est for Tris­tan Mar­ler. It’s a way to learn more about his iwi and make a con­tri­bu­tion to its fu­ture.

The Karanga­hape Rd res­i­dent first got into the art form while in his fi­nal year at West­ern Springs Col­lege.

A teacher in­tro­duced him to Maori mu­sic and he started mak­ing taonga puoro, tra­di­tional in­stru­ments, and carv­ing em­bel­lish­ments on them.

Mar­ler, 22, grew up in Pt Che­va­lier but his mother’s side of the family is from Mitim­iti in North­land and is of Te Rarawa de­scent.

He be­came in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in his cul­tural her­itage as a teenager and it started to show in the mo­tifs he used in his art prac­tice.

‘‘Carv­ing was a log­i­cal step to­wards re­con­nect­ing fur­ther with my iwi and my hapu. It’s been amaz­ing. It’s opened up a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for me.’’

In March he was one of four peo­ple to grad­u­ate from a three-year diploma course in Maori carv­ing at NZ Maori Arts and Crafts In­sti­tute’s Te Wananga Whakairo Rakau o Aotearoa, the Na­tional Wood Carv­ing School in Ro­torua.

‘‘I got out of it skills and knowl­edge that I never thought I’d have,’’ Mar­ler says.

‘‘I learnt how to visualise things in a 3D way which I think is re­ally use­ful. I met a lot of cool peo­ple and we shared a lot of ad­ven­tures. It was a cul­tur­ally en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

One of the high­lights of the course was work­ing on a model meet­ing house for the Frank­furt In­ter­na­tional Book Fair in 2012.

The fol­low­ing year he was one of about 20 stu­dents and tu­tors who carved the 30m by 13m ma­hau (porch front) for the Te Mata­tini Kapa Haka Aotearoa fes­ti­val in Ro­torua.

‘‘It was an amaz­ing project to work on. We ended up do­ing it in about five months. It was such a huge amount of carv­ing to do.’’

The stu­dents learned all the dif­fer­ent re­gional carv- ing tech­niques but by the end of the course ev­ery­one tended to lean to­wards their own iwi’s style, he says.

‘‘I didn’t think I would but that’s what slowly hap- pened,’’ Mar­ler says.

‘‘It’s just the way I feel I need to carve be­cause it re­lates more to me.’’

Mar­ler started a bach­e­lor of visual arts at Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy this year be­cause he’s keen to de­velop some of his other artis­tic skills such as paint­ing and print­mak­ing.

But he still has a hand in carv­ing. He has been com­mis­sioned to work on a carved fig­ure that will form part of a storehouse fa­cade for the in­au­gu­ral New Zealand ex­hi­bi­tion at the 2014 Venice Ar­chi­tec­ture Bi­en­nale which runs from June 7 to Novem­ber 23.

Mar­ler even­tu­ally wants to go to Mitim­iti to help carve Mati­hetihe Marae and teach his skills to oth­ers.

‘‘I think it’s knowl­edge that should be passed on.

‘‘This, for me, is about per­pet­u­at­ing that knowl­edge and try­ing to de­velop it.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to make sure that the art sur­vives and flourishes.’’

An­ces­tral con­nec­tion: Tris­tan Mar­ler is a grad­u­ate of the Na­tional Wood Carv­ing School and is col­lab­o­rat­ing on a work for the in­au­gu­ral New Zealand ex­hi­bi­tion at the 2014 Venice Ar­chi­tec­ture Bi­en­nale which starts in June. Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour and click Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video of Tris­tan Mar­ler ex­plain­ing why he wanted to learn tra­di­tional carv­ing tech­niques.

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