Mana and his­tory told by carv­ings

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABADIA

Some­thing clicked the very first time Arekat­era Maihi picked up a carv­ing chisel.

‘‘The sound got me. I re­alised there was a re­spon­si­bil­ity not only for my fam­ily but for my peo­ple too.’’

Maihi, of Ngati Whatua Orakei, had al­ways been artis­tic and spent a lot of time on the marae growing up. He was taught to carve about 15 years ago by his un­cle Manu Ta­maariki and then went on to study carv­ing at The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts In­sti­tute, Te Puia in Ro­torua.

He’s de­signed four tekoteko (fig­ures) for the en­trance to Eden Park and carved dec­o­ra­tive fea­tures onto trum­pet res­onators for the Town Hall or­gan.

He’s also com­pleted a tekoteko for the Orakei Rd sec­tion of the Hob­son Bay Walk­way which is ex­pected to open in Au­gust.

The phys­i­cal­ity is what he likes best about his trade. ‘‘We have to cre­ate what­ever we’re mak­ing with our hands, our eyes, our hearts and our minds. It takes the whole body and spirit,’’ the 39-year-old says.

Maihi is ex­cited to be part of the col­lec­tive The Sa­cred Chis­els of Ta­maki Makau­rau, Nga Whao­tapu o Ta­maki Maku­rau.

Work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively is un­usual for carvers to­day, he says.

Teams of peo­ple once worked to­gether on meet­ing houses but carvers now tend to work in­de­pen­dently on smaller com­mis­sions.

The ben­e­fit is that you up your game, Maihi says.

‘‘There’s more pres­sure to per­form in terms of try­ing to do your best be­cause these guys are guns and they’re right next to you.’’ The six mem­bers come from dif­fer­ent skill sets and the great thing about the process is that every­one con­trib­utes to the de­ci­sion-mak­ing, he says.

The carvers are work­ing on dif­fer­ent sec­tions of a door lin­tel which is be­ing com­mis­sioned for the foyer of the new Auck­land Coun­cil build­ing on Al­bert St. Ngati Whatua de­sign is very dis­tinc­tive, he says.

‘‘Our com­mon­al­i­ties are the curved lin­ear style of the fig­ures, the dome­shaped head and the pat­tern work. We work from nar­ra­tives that are handed down. It’s a method of main­tain­ing our mana, our sto­ries and our his­tory.’’

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