Porirua taniwha weaves spell
Weaver Kohai Grace is creating the Porirua taniwha to go on display at Porirua Aquatic Centre on Waitangi Day.
It is the first time anyone has attempted such an exhibit, which will be part of the Waitangi Day Festival of the Elements at Te Rauparaha Park.
Festival manager Margaret Armour said the theme for next month’s festival was water and the taniwha exhibit fitted the profile perfectly.
‘‘The taniwha is a wonderful story and is being told in this highly demanding artistic form by one of the world’s great weavers, who herself comes from the very area we’re talking about,’’ Armour said.
‘‘What could be better than that?’’
Grace collected bush plant kiekie , and washed and stripped and sun-dried for the weaving.
She is working from her studio in Hongoeka Bay, Plimmerton, overlooking the waters where the story of the taniwha is set.
‘‘I have been asked to weave Awarua, the taniwha, which is really nice because I love the story,’’ she said.
‘‘ Coming up with ideas stretches the imagination and challenges my creative mind.
‘‘I have chosen to incorporate ‘niho taniwha’ into the work.
‘‘It is a traditional weaving pattern that represents storytelling, myths and legends, and the art of oratory.
‘‘Niho means teeth, so the teeth of the taniwha are presented as triangles – in this case blue triangles – that may also be used to depict the waters.’’
The taniwha, Te Awarua o Porirua, described as the region’s oldest story, is said to have roamed Porirua Harbour hundreds of years ago, before any human footprints appeared on the mudflats.
Part of the story is that Awarua was being taught to fly by Rereroa the albatross, didn’t get enough height then crashed on to Mana Island and flattened it.
No great harm seemed to have been done by the incident, but Awarua hasn’t been seen in recent times.
However, the taniwha will rise again to be visible in woven creation above the waters at the Porirua Aquatic Centre on Waitangi Day.