Ni­cholas’ cloak of peace

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Women are of­ten the forgotten vic­tims of con­flict, says artist Darcy Ni­cholas, the for­mer direc­tor of Pataka.

His sculp­ture, Hin­erangi – Woman of the Heav­ens, wears the cloak of peace and di­rectly faces the tomb of the Un­known War­rior in the Pukeahu Na­tional War Me­mo­rial Park.

The Stokes Val­ley artist over­saw the cre­ation of Pataka in 1998 and was its direc­tor un­til the end of 2012.

He said he wanted to make a state­ment about the vi­o­lence that oc­curs in war.

‘‘ So many memo­ri­als com­mem­o­rate the men who died, but few re­mem­ber the women who not only died, but quite of­ten were de­filed be­fore they died,’’ Ni­cholas said.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber them.’’

Ni­cholas con­sulted Wai­whetu weaver Verenoa Hetet for his piece and they talked about what the kakahu, or cloak, was all about – a sym­bol of peace when con­flict ended.

‘‘A women would put her cloak on a sol­dier – that meant peace – no-one was to touch him.’’

Other na­tions also wanted to place their own memo­ri­als in the park and Ni­cholas re­alised the cloak would also sym­bol­ise wel­come.

Hutt crafts­man Brett Ran­gi­taawa cast the bronze and also pro­vided tech­ni­cal ad­vice on its de­sign.

The mo­tif of cloaked women has been a re­cur­ring theme through­out the Ni­cholas’ work.

It was in­spired by his child­hood mem­o­ries of his mother in the Waitara Marae, where he was raised.

‘‘Be­cause I was the youngest, I would sit with my brother be­hind my mother.

‘‘She would al­ways give the kairangi.

‘‘I was al­ways sit­ting be­hind her, so that was how she al­ways ap­peared to me.’’

The top of the kakahu rep­re­sented the land, he said. The tas­sels were the tears for those lost in the tribal, colo­nial and wars around the world.

The poutama de­signs on the cloak rep­re­sented pathways sol­diers took in their jour­ney to the spirit world.

Some of the pathways were de­lib­er­ately bro­ken to rep­re­sent the harsh­ness of war.

Ni­cholas also had a hand in the se­lec­tion, com­mis­sion­ing and place­ment of the other art­works that make up the park.

Rocks rep­re­sent the moun­tains from which they were taken.

Ruapehu (the par­ent moun­tain), Ton­gariro ( the war­rior moun­tain, in­scribed with de­pic­tions of seven war­riors, rep­re­sent­ing the seven ca­noes and as­so­ci­ated tribes) and Taranaki.

The park stands on the site of the pri­son where the Par­i­haka lead­ers were held for two years, labour­ing to make bricks. Some of those bricks are em­bed­ded in a wall bear­ing the in­scrip­tion ‘‘Maun­garongo kei runga ki te whenua’’ – peace across the land.

Pho­tos: JIM CHIPP

Darcy Ni­cholas with his bronze sculp­ture Hin­erangi – Woman of the Heav­ens at Pukeahu Na­tional War Me­mo­rial Park.

Hin­erangi – Woman of the Heav­ens rep­re­sents all the women killed in tribal con­flicts, colo­nial wars and world wars.

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