Ko Wairarapa Tenei
Wairarapa tenei is the story of abundance. Our ancient maunga (mountains) have inspired our tipuna over hundreds of years. Humbled by their magnificent presence, lifting us mindfully into the realms of the Atua (Gods). The source of our awa (rivers) that once fed an abundance of fauna and flora, sustaining us physically and spiritually. The plant is the kawa kawa, known as kava kava in the pacific. It was brought here by our tipuna to help support our health and well-being. The back patterns represent the many levels of learning, the three lines stand for nga kete o matauranga, the three baskets over knowledge brought to us by Tane, from the upper most heaven. The koru (fern fronds) reminds us of the value of whanau (family) and that we share the same origin and destiny. As one diverse humanity, the importance of unity and staying closely connected to whanau and community.
Tāne Mahuta me Pounamu
Tāne is sometimes given different names to reflect his different roles. He is called Tāne-mahuta as God of the forest, Tāne-te-wānanga as the bringer of knowledge, and Tānenui-a-rangi as bringer of higher consciousness. This image of Tāne Mahuta was inspired by a giant kauri rakau (tree) in the Waipoua Forest of Northland Region, New Zealand. Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. It is the largest living kauri tree known to stand today. The tree is a remnant of the ancient subtropical rainforest that once grew on the Northland Peninsula. Wairarapa was once known for its large forests and huge native trees. The many kowhaiwhai patterns that adorn him represent the many hapu and iwi that acknowledge Tāne Mahuta. Even though we are diverse we come together as one, standing tall as Maori. The pounamu represents our collective mana, our nobility and connection to nga atua (spiritual realm) and te taioa (nature).
Nga Maunga a Wairarapa
Nga Maunga a Wairarapa acknowledges the many maunga (mountains) that surround the Wairarapa. These maunga have a significance for local Maori and are referred to as places of profound personal connection for those of us that whakapapa (genealogy) to them. The Tararua maunga are visible in the background and the internal whakaairo (carvings) represent other local maunga. The outer whakaairo represent Haunui-a-nanaia, the tipuna that named many of our local maunga and awa (rivers). The triangles show feathers from local manu (birds) and paua. They represent the many kai (food) sources that are in and around Wairarapa. May our maunga continue to inspire, protect us and nourish us.
The koru patterns were designed by Kawana Rongonui. They represent Ranginui who is our sky father. He is always looking down on us throughout the day and night. The design shows the rotation of the sky throughout the year and the different climates that is inflicted on Ranginui during the different seasons of the year. The light blue represents the sky during the day and the dark blue represents the sky during the night. The purple represents our universe that runs further than our sky.
Harakeke kakano is an acknowledgement of the harakeke (flax) plant to survive and thrive, spreading its many kakano (seeds) out into the environment regionally, ensuring its survival. Like our local tipuna, Kahungunu, who spread his seed amongst many of our local Rangitane wahine, causing his progeny to survive and thrive over many generations.
This image represents the many gifts handed down from our ancestors. The kahu kiwi cloak belongs to the Te Tau whanau and once belonged to Puhara Te Tau (1859 – 1930). The three feathers represent the ability to see things that are spiritual and the pounamu is a precious stone, a treasure that is used to hold the mauri of things Maori.
This artwork depicts 'Ngā kete e toru o te mātauranga' – the three baskets of knowledge. In one tradition the atua Tāne travelled to the highest heaven to collect the baskets of knowledge and bring them back to humankind. This was an explanation for the origin of knowledge. Tāne is known primarily known as the god of the forests and all that dwells within them. To acquire the baskets of knowledge, Tāne had to ascend to the twelfth heaven, to Te Toi-o-ngā-rangi, and there be ushered into the presence of the Supreme God, of Io-matua-kore himself, to make his request. The request was granted and hence the knowledge we now have in our possession and at our disposal. The three baskets of knowledge are usually called te kete tuauri, te kete tuatea and te kete aronui. The poutama (stairway) that Tāne climbed is at the rear of the image. The three pillars represent the three baskets of knowledge that connect us to Maori knowledge and our tipuna, including the denizens of the immortal realm, nga atua.
Poutama kahurangi is about the separation of the parents of humanity, Ranginui (sky father) and Papatuanuku (earth mother). Has legend has told us; the children of Rangi and Papa grew frustrated at their confinement in the cramped space between their parents. Tū, future god of war, proposes that they should kill their parents. But Tāne disagrees, suggesting that it is better to separate them, sending Rangi into the sky and leaving Papa below to care for them. Tāne's brothers Rongo, then Tangaroa, Haumia-tiketike and Tū all try in vain to separate the parents. After many tries, Tāne lies on his back and pushes with his strong legs, and finally forces his parents apart, and Rangi rises high into the heavens. Then Tāne searched for heavenly bodies as lights so that his father would be appropriately dressed. He obtained the stars and threw them up, along with the moon and the sun. At last Rangi looked handsome.
The poutama (stairway) that Tāne climbed after the separation of his parents is at the rear of the image. The blend of blue to white colour represents the presence of light that flooded into the space between his parents and enabled new growth to occur, hence enabling an ever-advancing civilisation of humanity.
Poutama Kuia is the stepped pattern of poutama - symbolising genealogies and also the various levels of learning and intellectual achievement. Some say they represent the steps which Tāne-o-te-wānanga ascended to the topmost realm in his quest for superior knowledge and religion. Kuia is the name of the grey-faced petrels, a sea gull common on our Wairarapa east coast. I have used the beautiful grey colour of the Kuia bird in the poutama pattern.
I acknowledge the ability of this bird to soar at height and to overcome obstacles that may hold it back, as we must in our life journey, forever climbing the stairway of knowledge is we learn from the many challenges that life continues to gift to us with on this eternal journey.