Sam Te Tau
Moko (meaning lizard) is inspired by the story of Tane nui a Rangi, the progenitor and bringer of the light and knowledge of all things for Maori.
Climbing the Poutama (stairway to heaven) he reached the presence of Io, (God) and was given the three baskets of knowledge to bring back to his people as a guide for living.
Spiritual communities around the world share similar stories of their sacred being, an enlightened soul that brought forward divine knowledge, building enduring unity amongst their followers.
Personally, Moko also represents human evolution and the story of our journey through time. We are a mystery of creation and creation is our mystery.
Moko is how I express our connection to divinity.
Ko Tangaroa te atua o te moana, ngā awa, ngā roto me te oranga o roto.
Tangaroa is the god of the sea, rivers, lakes and all life within them.
The famous Maori ancestor Maui fished up Te Ika a Maui, the great fish that we know of as the north island of Aotearoa. He hooked the apex of a carved meeting house so therefore Maori attribute the origin of wood carving to Tangaroa.
The painting is symbolic of Maui's rope as it went deep into the waters of life to bring forward the knowledge of carving.
The many diverse patterned strands combine to strengthen and create a unique form, much like the coming together of our diverse cultures that must all eventually become one people.
The Tuatara is the last representative of an ancient lineage that stretches back at least 225 million years.
For me he is a symbol of that ancient wisdom standing between two worlds, the old and the new.
As a metaphor for multiculturalism, being indigenous to Aotearoa (New Zealand) myself and descending from European ancestors, I can relate to having conflicting cultural influences.
Tuatara's left leg is comfortably placed on a Maori tukutuku panel but his right leg is
slightly tangled in a red curtain, symbolic of this dilemma.
Te Kete Aronui
Te kete Aronui is one of three baskets of knowledge obtained by Tane nui a Rangi (a Maori diety) when he climbed the stairway of knowledge (poutama).
As a gift to humanity by Io, the Creator of all things, Te Kete Aronui contains knowledge of aroha (love), peace and the arts and crafts which benefit the earth and all living things.
This image draws me nearer to the heart ofexistence, where all of our positive qualities, the virtues, wait in potential to be used by all.
This painting was inspired from an idea to paint an subject that we here in Aotearoa are familiar with, something that we all can relate to and that is the mighty 'Tane Mahuta', one of the worlds oldest and largest trees.
'Tree of life', a powerfully symbolic metaphor that has been common among the indigenous tribes of the world and also features in the many great religions and spiritual traditions.
The tree surface area represents cultural diversity. Every culture has evolved its own unique individual expression and knowledge over a long period of time.
This diversity has formed the tribes and nations that we all belong to. When placed side by side they combine to form the same 'Tree of life' or tree of humanity.
The weaving of cultural diversity is bringing us back together again, both physically through the merging of genes and mindfully with the sharing of knowledge.
The powerful roots of 'Tane Mahuta' resemble the physical connection to our origins on earth and the mighty trunk and branches are leading us towards the sun which is the spiritual equivalent of the one Creator. And we the leaves of one tree!
Finally, the center of the tree has an unfolding spiral that is the heart or common soul of man, sharing its vibrant strength for the good of all.
Maybe this is our destiny, unified in mind, body and soul.
Watch the making of Tane Mahuta video
Limited edition of 10 prints
This painting happened during the Covid 19 lockdown.
It was inspired by the current global crisis and a tree that is on the loop line in Masterton. The dead branches appeared to me to resemble a crucifixion of sorts, a sacred death.
The theme of the ‘Tree of Life’ emerged as I was watching the ‘Tree of death’ playing out around the world. The lower branches on the left of the trunk are animated to look like some creature struggling to hold onto the tree.
We are a fragile but resilience creature, an ancient race that has survive all manner of calamities. Although the tree is dying there appears to be some ‘light’ of hope surrounding it.