Many of the forms we use are manu, because they reflect back at us. Like the demi-god, Māui, who transformed himself into various manu forms in order to complete particular tasks, we too can adopt manu to symbolise aspects of events and people in our histories. Through their actions we can relate to success or failure, understanding consequences from the reward or punishment they receive.
Like us, manu have iwi, clans; they karakia in the morning and in the evening... waiata during the day or night in some cases, and by flying they connect us between realms. They are kaitiaki, with special roles and responsibilities, as we also are and through this reciprocal relationship we are bound to one another. These relationships have emerged from the dynamic era of forested land, noisy and interactive.
What, then, do we make of their ever-increasing silences? Not the comfortable silence, like the space between heart beats... like breathing in and breathing out; like the space between one sound and another, that space which allows the moment of creative action.
No. It is the other, the uncomfortable silence; where there is simply an end and only the memory of the past, where those voices can no longer be heard; where just the mark in bone and paint are left to remind us of loss, and to challenge us to question our priorities, and to support every effort at providing landscapes in which all that remains of that forest world might better survive.
These seven paintings feature manu (birds) - the original inhabitants of these islands.
Battle of the Manu. The shags could not agree as to whether the river or the sea was the best place to find fish. Ultimately all the birds became involved in a battle, hence the checkerboard pattern.
Waraki (Dawn chorus) - Ka hangaia anō rā, He taonga kōrero, Hei hōnore, i ngā tūpuna e.
I create anew, a singing treasure to honour the ancestors.
Ngā Hau e Whā
From the four winds, the manu have travelled. The kōtuku often travels to Aotearoa from Australia, and is also found in the Northern Hemisphere. The sparrow was introduced in the 1850s, and called soon after, ‘the flying rat’. Tīkapa ki te hau, kōtuku ki te rangi. The plaintive wail of the wind heralds the approach in the sky of the rare visitor.
Whero o te Rangi – the kaitiaki of all small manu. Ruru of a hundred eyes sits on the fence post with the cut strands of wire. The maunga/whare is behind her and on the maihi are the two manu forms standing for Te Whiti and Tohu. The apex of the maihi forms what is known as 'the dog’s leg', telling the story of how the dog stopped one of the canons firing on the people of Parihaka. The poi and the waiata held the story of Parihaka close. Behind are the cicada, they who create the song of Tāne, representing the children in the narrative.
“The tearful cry, the tears shed of the Albatross that adorn the chambers of my broken heart.”
The sparrow, representing the colonisers and the attack on Parihaka. The checker-board plus button pieces referencing the checker games Te Whiti and Tohu liked to play, at the same time referring to the action that has taken place.
Brings the mana of the world of Hawaiki to Aotearoa.
Kauae Runga - Ōhaka Tapu - Te Hau Makaurangi
Kauae Runga - Celestial Knowledge
The hau spirals through time and space. Rongomai took the form of a whale and his aria was usually perceived as a comet or meteor.
Ōhaka Tapu - Haumanu
“Hirini began playing softly, slowly building momentum and as he played the sound filled the still air above us. Soon the echoes were circling over us and in that magic moment it was if we were inside a crystal glass that was
singing to the finger’s touch” - Brian Flintoff
This is the place where the taniwha’s scales created these formations in his death throes. A place where the Maero played their taonga puoro.
Te Hau Makaurangi – Adorn with Spirals.
Mauī, in the form of a kāhu, was helped by kōkako in providing water to extinguish the flames of the fire he had created in his battle with Mahuika. As a reward, kōkako was told to eat casemoths and therefore sing like the
goddess of flute music, Raukatauri herself.
Raukatauri so loved her flute she ended up living inside it. She is now personified as the casemoth, the form of which is the Pūtōrino.
These four kōwhaiwhai paintings are spaced outside and in-between the above three paintings.
Kōkako - Tūī - Kōkōmako
Kōkako - Tūī - Kōkōmako
In the ‘dawn chorus’ of old, the kōkako started the call; this was followed by the tūī and then further enhanced by the kōkōmako. These three works were envisioned for our kaumātua, who is blind, and therefore the taonga around their necks (created by Brian) are able to be touched, held, removed and worn.
Tūī form the two outstretched wings of Tāne. The tūī was the guardian of the doorway between the 11th and 12th heavens that held the esoteric knowledge. This doorway was called pūmotomoto, this being also the name of the instrument that elders chanted through and played to pass on knowledge. This instrument, too, was often played over the fontanelle of the young, again from one doorway through to another, like the night when the gods sang the world into existence.
From the world of light into the world of music.
Draw or write it in the sky
Write it in the earth
Write it in the hearts of men
All there really is, is love.
Underneath this pou are two kete. containing Kōkōwai from Parapara Maunga and Pakohe. Sacred objects were often placed under the Poutuorongo.
This painting represents the carved slab over the door of the Wharenui.
Pūrerehua - (Butterfly/moth) Bull Roarer
Kahukura (personified as the red admiral butterfly), known in the north as Uenuku (rainbow), but also by some as an ancestor from Hawaiki. Uenuku had a famous feather cloak, Te kaka o Uenuku
This mat is placed at the entranceway to the Wharenui - yes, it may be walked on!
Waewae and Karakia
Waewae form the carved pillars either side of the entrance to the wharenui.
These karakia were created for the exhibition.