Taiaha, quartet roles close tourism year

Modern Maori Quartet, from left, Maaka Pohatu, Francis Kora, Matariki Whatarau, and James Tito. – Supplied.


A kapa haka collaboration with Modern Māori Quartet and the crafting of an official gift from New Zealand to China, comprise two efforts Te Puia played in the official China-New Zealand Year of Tourism closing ceremony.

The specially selected kapa haka group is part of a larger group in China with Tuku Iho | Living Legacy exhibition developed by Te Puia, formerly the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

A 1.5m taiaha carved by pouako whakairo rākau (wood carving tutor) Tommy Herbert was selected as the official gift to China.

At Sunday’s closing ceremony, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis presented the taiaha to China’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang, who visited Te Puia in Rotorua earlier this year.

According to tikanga, the taiaha is the most prized weapon, given to those held in the highest regard.

Taiaha gift to China, made in Rotorua. – Supplied.

Carved from rātā, a native wood, the designs within the taiaha reflect the strong connection between the Aotearoa and China with the waha, or mouth, symbolising the importance of conversations and dialogue, and the significant impact of cultural diplomacy.

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute general manager, Eraia Kiel says it is proud moment to see Te Puia (NZMACI) play important roles in performing and creating taonga.

Eraia says it is “a huge buzz” for the kapa to perform alongside Modern Māori Quartet, formed in 2010.

With only one rehearsal to get the performance right, “everyone clicked straight away”.

“The Modern Māori Quartet have an awesome wairua about them and we learnt a lot in the short time we were together.”

The carver, Tommy Herbert, is no stranger to having his whakairo (carving) take him around the world.

 “It is great to continue the traditional arts of my tūpuna (ancestors) and pass on skills to future generations,” Tommy says.

He first visited China as part of the first Tuku Iho in 2013. Returning was a privilege.

“It is such a good experience getting to share our culture overseas and meet new people from different cultures.”

Eraia Kiel. – Supplied.

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