Lavender

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          
rangihīroa, lavender in blue glass vase, 2019

Pale lilac blooms

stolen In Memorium…

on a hillside

steeply launched

memories like medicine

poured down white cracked concrete

warmed by evening sun

but no kind words hang here

since you passed

I never knew your name

looking around – it’s pretty much the same

you are not alone

the wind and the rain

have wiped remembrance here

but one trace remains

103 years after dirt was cast

rotten pipe clay task

wiped from holy hands

one very particular scent still hangs

French Lavender

what began as a twig

a premonition piercing mounded clay

your lover day after day

returning

yearning

remembering the way the ship soared

out through the mouth

like birth

and I too looking

seaward

across Granny’s bay towards Āwhitu

imagining you leaving Onehunga

to fight the Boers

I catch Mangere watching jealously

in the distance

lazily spitting up clouds

like melon pips

as if to say e hoa, it’s just a scraggy old bush there

kaore ngā ahi kā kei kōna

anake ngā tauiwi e okioki ana

ae, koinā te kōrero he maunga ariki

but its roots were watered

with the tears of loved ones

it’s true that on this crowded hill

they too rest somewhere else

but in off shore breezes

this old lavender

knows no boundaries on this headland

crush its healing oil in palm

and you too will see memory

and loved ones

resurrected

upon the wind

Maunga Mangere titiro ki Maungakiekie, Mangere mountain looks towards One tree Hill, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2020

This short poem concerns a visit 13 February 2019 to the urupā at the top of Hillsborough. It is steeply situated with spectacular harbourside views across Manukau south to Maunga Mangere and west seawards out to Awhitu peninsular – south Manukau Heads. One of the nineeteenth century graves featured a remarkably hardy bush of lavender. I photographed a few of its many blooms. This extremely weathered and hardy shrub had been left to fend for itself but in the late afternoon sun a gentle breeze was picking up and the air around that grave was filled with the delicate scent of French Lavender. It occurred to me that a number of the shrubs and trees deliberately planted by loved ones involved broader narratives of connection. Was there something particular about the chosen plant? What might it have signified, what emotion is signified? Who were these people who planted these shrubs and how often did they return to pay their respects and perhaps just to talk…?

rangihīroa, lavender in blue glass vase, 2019

I Will Need Words

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          

He Kōrero Tairitenga

The following poem was a contribution to a panel discussion involving Andrew Clifford, [Director Te Uru], Catherine Griffiths [typography artist], Bruce Connew [photographer] closing and acknowledging the show A Vocabulary.. and the launch of its book at Te Uru, Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, 13 February 2021

rangihīroa, Ātarangi, Hato Mikaere, Ōhaeawai, tata atu ki te Pū o te Wheke

I W I L L N E E D W O R D S

rangihīroa, Northern Wars, 2020, coloured inks on paper, matai me Japanese cherry

rangihīroa, ngā parekura o Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua, Ruapekapeka, 1845/1846
rangihīroa, The Road to Ruapekapeka, 2020

10 SHADES OF CRIMSON

© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com          

written for the opening of Bruce Connew, ‘A Vocabulary’, Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi 12 December 2020

E ngā mate. Ka mahara tātou ki ngā mumu Māori e takoto ana kei raro i ngā parekura o ngā pakanga whenua o mua. Haere, haere, haere. Haere ki te poho o te Atua, haere ki Hawaikinui, Hawaiki roa, Hawaiki pāmamao.

rangihīroa, Hato Mikaere, Ōhaeawai


The parekura
sits silent
no noise at all
just the chatter
of a tui
wrecking putiputi
down by the hall
just the wind
murmuring
across the fertile plains
he swore he heard their
voices around
Ngāi Kuku’s last remains
 
down by the river
where the fighting pā
once stood
or was it just the twittering of
piwakawaka
in the woods
 
the scale of the loss
disgusted him
it explained why he refused
the spirit path to Rēinga
instead he would choose
to guard over
bones and taonga
and mourn unmentioned loss
hidden from a nearby cenotaph
that refused to count the cost
 
raised to his last battle
near fields in which he toiled
he read the text again and again
as if it would reveal
some other truth or meaning
that might possibly transcend
a vocabulary of forgetting
bronze letters that won’t bend
colourful adjectives
murdering rebels, barbarous savages

he struggled with the message
they were a people worth forgetting

Indeed not a word
of his hapū’s bravery
no mention of their name
or that settler greed for land
was largely to blame
for a war they never asked for
how else could one explain
an eternity of loss within
a deep gnawing pain
 
and when archaeologists visit
he wishes he could yell
and call
Haere mai
E hoa, haul your trig over here, man
Yeah map us brother, draft us on that plan
 
but the grid only measures trenches
so we’ll always be missed
except by manuhiri
that want to take a mimi
 
and summer comes and summer goes
and the pōhutukawa bleeds
scarlet in the morning
10 shades of crimson
when the sun retreats

Pohutukawa ko tahi

Pohutukawa e rua
Pōhutukawa e toru..

Some notes regarding ’10 Shades…

My wife’s people, Te Aupōuri, live near Cape Rēinga. They along with iwi like Ngāti Kuri consider themselves gatekeepers to Te Rerenga o Wairua ‘the leaping off point of the Spirits’ at the northern extremity of Aotearoa. Many Polynesian Islands in South Pacific have their leaping off points. This role of kaitiakitanga at the departure point of wairua journeying to Hawaiki has created family histories where ghost stories are common. At times the Spirits stop along the way and there are visitations. The narratives told at night of encounters with the spirits are the most frightening and are remembered and passed on with relish and great drama.

10 Shades…, in essence, is a ghost story taken from the point of view of a toa ‘Māori warrior’ who decides not to take the path to Rēinga and remains with his whānau and the warriors he fought with on a Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua battefield. In the poem one of the greatest struggles the central character has is accepting a memorial inscription raised near the battlefield. History, so the saying goes, is written by the victors.

MAORI ART, the koru and 2019

rangihīroa, rauponga, pitau huruwhenua, morning 30 December 2018

 

© Rangihīroa Panoho 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author's express permission. Details for writing to author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com   The opinions expressed those of the author and not those of former employers or industry colleagues.
        Ka mate he tete kura ka tupu he tete kura
'When one red fern frond falls, another takes its place.'

                      he whakataukī

 

It’s New Year’s eve 2019 tonight. Aucklanders have fled the City for the beaches. They have escaped to the Northland and to the Coromandel coastlines. This place is a ghost town. Driving around feels a little like going back to the empty suburban roads of the 1980s during other periods of vacation. Many indigenous cultures have different concepts regarding the arrival of the New Year. For our tūpuna it was the months of winter (late May/early June) and the appearance of the star cluster Matariki  ‘Pleiades constellation’ that signalled the change. While June 10 was celebrated this year there was traditionally a longer, natural cyclic rhythm that brought cosmos and people together in celebration throughout tribal Aotearoa. Matariki was a time for the harvesting of natural resources, a time of reflection and a time of planning for the future.

While the heavens are a natural place to turn to this time of year (i.e. Bethlehem – the morning star and the Christian narrative) I am a Māori art historian and Māori art is full of natural cyclic symbols that may prove useful to this discussion. My book MAORI ART looks at the metaphor of rivers in our ancestral thinking as a way of considering the flow of history in our artforms. It may have been a short essay I wrote recently on kōwhaiwhai based artist Sandy Adsett that made me more aware of a rauponga fern sending out pitau shoots over the last couple of weeks. Photographing the fern immediately brings to mind one of the key design modules in Māori art – the koru and it is this motif, its history and its natural origins, that is the focus for the remainder of this short essay. The koru, I suggest, is actually a good metaphor for acknowledging the New Year.

There are many natural sources for the koru. While the spiral is commonly used by many cultures throughout the world the koru and its particular usage by New Zealand Māori is unique for a range of reasons. Firstly, it represents an aesthetic shift in Polynesian design history. The koru, and its many different manifestations in te toi whakairo ‘Māori woodcarving’ and kōwhaiwhai ‘Māori rafter painting’, constitutes a deliberate movement away from the angular forms and patterns that were part of the proto Polynesian aesthetic (particularly present in pottery, tapa and tātau) to a uniquely curvilinear form. The koru developed and flourished here in Aotearoa as our ancestors became increasingly isolated from their Hawaiki (i.e. their various Pacific homelands).

 

Sandy Adsett, Ngāti Pahaurewa and New Zealand Historic Places Trust restoration, HINERINGA meetinghouse, Raupunga mārae. Photography: Haruhiko Sameshima (commissioned by author) 19 January 1994, destroyed by fire 2007.

Secondly, the koru is a response to the equally unique natural environment found here in Aotearoa. The shape of the previously described unfurling fern frond is one commonly referred to as a source of inspiration for the koru. The pitau is embryonic and full of potential and that is what probably attracted our ancestors to the architecture of its growth. It suggests in its coil that life involves all sorts of possibilities. Life is potential. Tomorrow is another day that will unfold in a way that may be completely different from today. The unfolding fern frond also suggests a point of return in its circularity. It speaks of natural cycles, continuum and a returning…

Just the right motif, I say, to introduce the new year that so many around the world celebrate.

Nā reira, e ngā whāea, e ngā mātua, e ngā tamariki, e ngā kaipānui o ēnei rangataki. Hari tau hou, Happy New Year!

 

 

MAORI ART and ARMISTICE 100 Years On

MAORI ART and ARMISTICE

100 YEARS on   MaC IX

10 November 2018

© Rangihīroa Panoho 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com   The opinions expressed are those of the author and not those of former employers or industry colleagues.

rangihīroa, lilies from a recent tangi, 2018

                 Flowers grow out of dark moments

                          Sister Mary Corita Kent

I have never been to war and I have never visited the war dead at the Somme, at Messines, at Passchendaele nor at Ypres where the old western front once bitterly divided Europe and the wider world in two. I have never witnessed the poppies that McCrae once described flowering in Flanders not far from the second battle of Ypres in 1915. I have never gone to Gallipoli to pay homage to the diggers.

 

WWI poetry
Flanders Poppies atop Passchendaele Army Barrage Map

rangihīroa, WWI Archway of Remembrance, Ōhakune Memorial 1914-1918, October, 2018

However, what I have gained, growing up in this country, is a sense of the effect of this particular war. The memorials, the archways of remembrance (see Ōhakune image) the rolls of honour in community halls throughout New Zealand with the family names proudly recorded: these are all vivid and touching testimonies to the way this particular war has affected everyone in Aotearoa. What these monuments (always centrally positioned in our towns) and memorabilia tell us is that the Great War literally touched every Kiwi community throughout the land. Yale academic Jay Winter notes the scale of this sacrifice, ‘…the losses in terms of those killed on active service from New Zealand is between 1 in 6 and 1 in 5, so it was that country which suffered the most among the family of British nations’.

The more I thought about this particular war the more I realised war colours the entire history of Māori as well. Our inter-tribal wars (at least 800 – 1000 years of them), our battles with the British, our battles with the settlers and later paradoxically our fighting alongside the British from World War I onwards – this has been a long, haunting history in this land. There are military connections between Māori and the wider world as well. The language of trench warfare, that dominated the conflict on the Western front, owes something to historical Māori resistance to colonial intrusion in Aotearoa. The British Army commissioned drawings of the trench systems and underground pits utilised in fortifications at sites like Ruapekapeka, Pewhairangi 1845/1846 and Gate Pā, Tauranga in 1864. That knowledge returned to England and was frighteningly reapplied on an enormous scale with horrendous consequences, a number of decades later, on the western front.

Perhaps my most direct connection with the Great War is really through Māori art. I am fascinated by the way in which tāngata whenua artists use a unique Māori sensibility to talk about WW1. I have put together a series of images (some of which I have created) to pay tribute to the upcoming Armistice commemoration this Sunday. The two artists that feature in my collection are Paratene Matchitt and Michael Parekowhai. Both, while referencing the Great War, draw affinities with a Māori legacy of warfare. The indigenous connection helps make sense of the troubling content centering it locally despite the fact that the actual battles took place half a world away in Europe.

Paratene Matchitt, Armistice, November 2013. Printmaker: Rakai Karaitiana

Matchitt’s print ‘Armistice’, 2013 was a gift by the artist when I stayed with and interviewed him in his Napier studio in 2015. I understood the language of the print immediately. It was close to the aesthetic of his Te Kooti series of linocuts in the 1960s that I had studied while working on a Master thesis on the artist in the late 1980s. There were a number of tell-tale affinities. In the earlier series he had used cubism via artists like the Australian abstractionist Leonard French to deconstruct his subject. The earlier series by Matchitt had tracked the movement of the nineteenth century militant leader Te Kooti Rikirangi on the run from settler troops and kūpapa Māori. It is this chase ‘te whai a te motu’ (i.e. pursuit through the island) through regions like Te Urewera and the National Park (battle of Te Pōrere, 1869 – the last large scale pitched battle between Māori and Pākehā) that become the basis for the story. Abstracted parts of horses that Te Kooti and his followers rode and the women who followed him as well can be observed in the imagery.

The language of cubism that breaks up and cuts into reality really does suit the viciousness of war. Fast forward to the Western Front. In the 2013 image one can read body and animal parts and trenches and tunnels that cut through and sever territory, both undermining and threatening enemy lines. Horses hooves can be read middle left and throughout Matchitt’s composition (millions of horses served in WWI – of the thousands NZ sent over 4 are said to have returned). There is the form of a rider as well. On the right edge of the work is the butt of a rifle which also has saw teeth on its barrel. There are manaia forms (beak like form of the bird man motif) where arcing lines resonate entrances to tunnels and straight white and red lines suggest the stand off that trenches brought behind the lines. And beyond all this immediate patterning there is an abiding darkness. Is this the voluminous mud or perhaps a reference to the enormity of death that preceded the ceasefire?

There are some connections between Te Kooti’s separatist stand and cessation prior to Armistice. Te Kooti took refuge under the Waikato paramount leader Tawhiao at Te Kuiti in the King Country and later in 1883 was granted a pardon by the Crown. Matchitt signifies the new truce in ‘Armistice’ upper centre through the red, white and black that arc across the composition. They suggest a rainbow, a new covenant being established in 1918. Nearly 100 years ago to the day (November 11) Germany formally surrendered. The Treaty of Versailles that followed was initially seen by the Allied Forces as a binding agreement guaranteeing world peace.

Michael Parekowhai, Passchendaele, The Consolation of Philosophy, 2001

In 2001 Michael Parekowhai created a series (The Consolation of Philosophy) of photographic images featuring faux flowers in Crown Lynn pottery. Each bouquet was assigned a title referencing a major battle site on the western front and elsewhere New Zealanders fought and died. Amiens, Armentières, Carais, Étaples, Fish Alley, Flers, Le Quesnoy, Messines, Passchendaele, Turk Lane and Ypres are all named. These were places the Māori Battalion also fought. As with Matchitt’s connection with the militant leader Te Kooti Parekowhai has made personal statements about the relationship between trench warfare and the nineteenth century pā fortifications used by Māori to defend their lands.

I have chosen Parekowhai’s Passchendaele as my focus. This unsuccessful attempt to take a small Belgian village very much encapsulates Winter’s thoughts earlier about the scale of Kiwi sacrifice. Often referred to as ‘New Zealand’s darkest day’, this particular battle cost this country 6% of its casualties for the entire war. On a single day, October 12, 1917 3200 New Zealand casualties suffered – among them 845 dead.

rangihīroa, kōwhai ‘yellow’ native, Kingsland, 2018

Parekowhai’s bouquet is the artist’s own personal attempt to bring his whakapapa to the horror of this battle site. Pare kōwhai, his family name, literally means ‘yellow or kōwhai garland’. Flowers are a part of his genealogy and his identity and they contrast markedly with the mud and drowned, cut and maimed New Zealand bodies lost somewhere out there in the wasteland of the Ypres image below:

WWI image
Frank Hurley, ‘Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917 (Australian War Memorial Museum, E01220)

Parekowhai’s use of flowers is of course not simply personal it is a universal metaphor for commemorating loss and for acknowledging grieving. I have just returned from a whānau tangi in Tāmaki and Te Tai Tokerau. The power of the pare kawakawa, worn at times by mourners, is always a powerful northern tradition involving men, sacred traditions around particular native plants and tangihanga.

 

 

comemorative wreath
rangihīroa, pare kawakawa, 2017 (concept)
WWI poetry
rangihīroa, collage featuring red poppies, secret Army Barrage Map for Passchendaele and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem penned at the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, May 3, 1915

Back on the 3rd of May 1915 it is the red flower that waves in the wind in Flanders and possesses a tapū ambience due to the dead beneath. That was the inspiration for Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after losing a close friend and penning his own poem. In that moment of inspiration more than other any other creative response the Canadian surgeon left the world a universal symbol for the Great War: the red poppy.

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.’

 

war memorialisation
rangihīroa, broken, reassembled fern, 2018

Writing MAORI ART MaCVIII

gallery invitation
© Rangihīroa Panoho, 2020/2021. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his express permission. Details for writing to the author are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com The opinions expressed are those of Dr Panoho and not those of former employers or industry colleagues

 

BlueOrbit

rangihīroa,  he āmionga kikorangi, ‘the blue orbit’, 2018

 

E ngā kaipānui tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā ra koutou katoa. Ngā whakawhetai ki a koutou mo te awhi me te tautoko hoki. Hari te ngakau nei e hoko ana koutou ki tā tātou pukapuka. Naaku te rourou, nau te rourou, ka kī te kete.

The following text comprises notes used to prepare for a presentation of ‘Writing Māori Art’ at the City Gallery, Wellington, 25 August 2016. They explore the background to the creation of MAORI ART: History, Architecture, Landscape and Theory, Batemans, 2015/2018. Some key themes and motivations for the work are discussed. ‘Writing Maori Art’ has been edited for this particular platform however, it largely follows the question/response format used in the original kōrero. I am offering this as a koha to recognise the hundreds on the publisher’s facebook site that have supported this project and the many who have been visiting this companion site to peruse the MaC I-VII blogs. I hope the kaupapa is useful to those searching for authorial intent.

 

Presentation
Panoho, Leonard, Caldwell, Brunt and Tamati-Quennell

Writing MAORI ART

It was difficult to know what to prepare here. I wondered who might be attending so I found myself asking questions throughout this kōrero.  I have largely kept that initial structure involving enquiry and response. This imagining ones audience and then writing to / for that readership or group is what I think writing a book is about. There were other influences as well. The panel members (Megan Tamati-Quennell, MONZ and Peter Brunt, VUW), that follow this talk, were also interested in hearing about the book’s central river metaphor so I have included some discussion on awa. If you are looking for a brief explanation of the river try this video link.

Lorraine Steele, (Lighthouse NZ PR Book Publicity) assigned by my publisher Batemans to help market ‘Maori Art’, told me prior to its initial launch in June 2015 at Te Uru that books, particularly art books in New Zealand, don’t sell themselves. No great revelation for those involved in publishing here tonight. You would immediately understand the role authorial self-promotion plays in marketing New Zealand books, films indeed all creative activity in Aotearoa. In Auckland, the situation seems grim. With a city of nearly 1.5 million people there is no major window for New Zealand books on Queen Street, or apart from Unity Books, in the central city. Our publicist suggested I take a few months out to travel meet, greet, sign and sell. She was particularly keen on areas of the country with community ties to the book. What sounded like grim advice then makes good business sense now.

So here is my delayed response, eventually following marketing advice. In returning here to Wellington I am re-visiting a site important early on in the creation, the conceptualising, the illustration and in the production of ‘Maori Art’. I lived locally. I taught up the road on Tasman Street at the local Design School. My original publishing contracts were sent here. My first manuscript was created in this town. It was here I began describing to alarmed, possibly bemused readers, I was writing a book on Māori Art that would be centered around the metaphor of a river. My first readers Mary Barr, Jayne Sayle, Garry Nicholas and Luit Bieringa were and still all are locals. I curated a major Māori and a Pacific show, for the Dowse Art Museum and for the City Gallery respectively, prior to living here and I am grateful to Robert Leonard and the City Gallery for letting me continue this legacy in not simply celebrating curating but also writing ‘Maori Art’ with you.

 

WHY WRITE MAORI ART?

 

So why write a book on Māori Art? Indeed, why write any book? At risk of personal scrutiny I quote British novelist George Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write‘  because his account of authorship and motivation provides a useful structure here to work with and against. Writing post world war II (summer 1946) Orwell lays down 4 drives: sheer egotism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose.  Some areas resonate more than others. I test a couple of these ideas.

Egotism: taking Orwell’s first motivation. On 11 August 1992 I was offered a contract with Nevill Drury, Publishing Manager, Craftsman House, Australia. Drury writes, ‘Delighted to enclose contracts…I feel this publication will be a very worthwhile addition to the literature on Pacific art. Your book will be distributed internationally, and I think could also attract offers of translation.’ Lofty possibilities indeed. From the point of view of a 28 year old, burnt out from curating a Pacific show and travelling a large Māori exhibition on tour to Australia for Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery, this Australian contract was a big deal.

Egotism? Orwell claims, ‘It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one.’ Perhaps initially there is the grand vision but the brutality of 22 sobering years deals to romantic visions: there have been contract losses, institutions neither believing, nor backing and, worse, stalling its publication, job loss, an employment court battle with a Vice Chancellor, reluctance by the ‘community of taste’ to accept my writing and so on. Many of the previous MaC blogs detail this history. The great nineteenth century pacifist Parihaka prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai in 1903 told an historian seeking answers on the land wars, William Baucke, to ‘ask that mountain, Taranaki saw it all.’ For those that continue to have trouble understanding the raruraru behind writing ‘Maori Art’ I would like to quote Te Whiti and say, ask the book – it saw it all.

My disagreement with Orwell stems from the thought that there is not much room for inflated egos when authors are jobless and manuscripts go unpublished. The one abiding passion I had for ‘Maori Art’ was to focus my thinking and creative output on its kaupapa. Others were also important in helping birth it. The photographers, Haruhiko Sameshima and Mark Adams and more recently Tracey Borgfelt the publisher, and publicist Lorraine Steele, believed in this project. For those intent on reading my thoughts in relation to the book I suggest less focus on personality and more on the work itself. That, despite Orwell’s insistance, would be the more rewarding line of enquiry. I think this book does actually follow its own unique path without deviating. Reflectively author Anne Rice‘s perception of what inspired her about the focus in Franz Kafka’s writing seems to fit this kaupapa:

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

 

SO WHAT IS MAORI ART ABOUT?

 

AucklandArtGallery bookshop
Maori Art on display, Toi Tāmaki ‘Auckland Art Gallery’ bookshop, 2020
PNG flower
rangihīroa, impatiens, Papua New Guinea native, 2017

Orpan River, airstrip, village, and Anguganak bluff – upper right

 

The book references or is influenced by four river types. The personal, the tribal, the Austronesian and the cosmological. These four layers underpin the selection of material and the central metaphor and they make sense of the force relations contained within the chapters. Regarding the first and third rivers, I was born in Angugunak bluff amongst the mountainous rainforest of the Western Sepik district of Papua New Guinea. I lived alongside the Northern Wairoa River (river II), out on the West Coast at Bayleys Beach or Ripiro (during my childhood/early adolescence), alongside the Whanganui River (during my work as a curator – river II) and on the South Kaipara Head (during my time teaching tertiary in Tāmaki – river II and IV).

Mark Adams, north Kaipara looking out from towards the waha mouth of the Wairoa ki te Tai Tokerau River,

In the broader sense ‘Maori Art’ makes a case for a cultural river comprising ocean currents that take people, cosmologies, visual and spoken languages and whakapapa out of ancient China, insular Asia into the Near and Distant Pacific. Eventually this diaspora leads to bottle necks of culture comprising the Lapita peoples further north and to the West and Eastern Polynesian gatherings centred on islands like Rangiātea and Rarotonga through which the very last southern migration of human beings on the planet took place. Those people have become known as Māori in the south and Maoli in Hawai’i.

 

rangihīroa, gardenia hand, 2017

As with the visual motifs explored in MAORI ART this flower is found in a number of sites, throughout the world, associated with our Austronesian ancestors: Southern China, Taiwan, Madagascar and the Pacific.

WHERE ELSE MIGHT I FEEL ‘MAORI ART’ RESONATES ORWELL’S SUMMARY REGARDING MOTIVATIONS?

The aesthetic area. There is an interest in the sound of words and a passion for this helps drive imagery and design. Further, in political terms Orwell also talks about the, ‘Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.’ In ‘Maori Art’ the society I envisage is one where locals and those overseas are more discerning about how they see, describe, interpret, endorse and market particular types of Māori art. Two whole chapters are devoted to communities that base themselves around two very different extremes – the orthodoxy of Sir Āpirana Ngata and the modernism of Ralph Hotere. Perhaps to the surprise of some I don’t see either position as solely or idealistically encapsulating the society or artform for which we should strive.

Orwell finally talks about writing possessing an historical impulse. Again I don’t wholly agree with the definition. Historicity in ‘Maori Art’ is tied up with Asia Pacific and concepts of the past not as teleological so much as ancestral and in flux or in continuum. Mark Twain once described the Mississippi as iconic in the sense that it embodied the recent history of his nation (not to be confused with First Nation concepts of history). I used the river metaphor and various states of water in flow because I believe they too embody our unique history in this part of the world.

More than this I saw the river as an inclusive form that embraces all.

commemorative lei aroha
pare puarangi, 2017

How We Belong: Te Parawhau and the Mangrove Tree

MaC VII

How We Belong: Te Parawhau and the Mangrove Tree

This post considers the connections between a native tree and a Northland hapū through the naming of one of their community buildings. It explores the importance of the local natural environment and its role in shaping an architectural metaphor.

 

Te hana ‘the radiance’ o te rau manawa ‘mangrove leave’

 

© Rangihīroa Panoho and PIHIRAU PRODUCTIONS Ltd, 2018. No part of this document (text or imagery) is free to be copied, plagiarised or shared for publication or for uses neither intended nor agreed on by the author without his or the Director of PIHIRAU Production's express permission. Details for writing to PIHIRAU are as follows: blueskypanoho@icloud.com   The opinions expressed are mine and not those of former employers or industry colleagues.

 

Te Ihi Kikorangi Toka Panoho, Pāpā outside wānanga at Te Tirarau mārae, Tangiterōria, 2016

 

Tangihua te maunga
Kaipara te moana
Te Parawhau te hapū
Tirarau te rangatira
Te Aotahi te kāinga

 

E ngā pihirau o te manawa raki, e ngā paiaka e whakamarumaru ana kei raro i te ātārangi o te maunga Tangihua. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā rā koutou katoa.

Kia mahara ki ngā kupu aumihi a tā tātou matua Kōwhai Tito. Kua whakatakototia te rangatira ki te pūtake o te kaupapa ātaahua nei, arā ko te wānanga pihirau. Ka tupu te kōrero whakarite no tana mātakitaki o te uru manawa me ngā pihimano hā e tupu ana kei raro i ngā kāpuhipuhi o ngā manawa Kaipara. He rākau kōwhai kākāriki he kōhanga o ngā ika tini, ngā manu maha me ngā ngārara nui. He aha te kaupapa aweawe o te karere nei? Maaku e ki atu, e wha ngā meanui: te mauri o Te Parawhau, te hau o Kaipara, te mahi a te uri whakatipu me te meanui he whakawhānaungatanga hoki. Heoi rā, hei whakaaroaro mā tātou.

Titiro ki te matahua o te hapū. Kei te mohio koutou ki te mōmona o te waipuketanga o ngā pehu e toru; ko Te Aotahi, ko Piritaha, ae Māreikura hoki. Titiro ki te puanga o te uru manawa: e pihi ana tēnei, e pihi ana tēnā, e pihi ana tērā. Ko ēnei ahurewa hei whakapapa me ngā hononga o te mahi a te tamariki, ngā mokopuna me te uri whakatupuranga. E tupu ana, e tupu ora. Kia tupu tonu Te Parawhau, ake, ake! Tīhei mauri ora.

 

Mark Adams, he uru manawa, the beginnings of a mangrove ‘avicennia marina – subsp. australasica’ forest, Waionui Lagoon, Kaipara whanga ‘harbour mouth’, 1995

 

Mangroves are defined by the presence of trees that mainly occur in the intertidal zone, between land and sea, in the (sub) tropics. The intertidal zone is characterised by highly variable environmental factors, such as temperature, sedimentation and tidal currents. The aerial roots of mangroves partly stabilise this environment and provide a substratum on which many species of plants and animals live. Above the water, the mangrove trees and canopy provide important habitat for a wide range of species. These include birds, insects, mammals and reptiles. The soft substratum in the mangroves forms habitat for various infaunal and epifaunal species, while the space between roots provides shelter and food for motile fauna such as prawns, crabs and fishes. Mangrove litter is transformed into detritus, which partly supports the mangrove food web...Due to the high abundance of food and shelter, and low predation pressure, mangroves form an ideal habitat for a variety of animal species, during part or all of their life cycles. As such, mangroves may function as nursery habitats for (commercially important) crab, prawn and fish species, and support offshore fish populations and fisheries

Aquatic Botany, volume 89:2, August 2008:155

 

Pihi

noun: ‘shoot, sprout’

verb: ‘to spring up, to begin to grow.’

Rau

(numeral) hundred(s)

 rangihīroa, ngā pihi o te manawa ‘pneumatophores’, 2018

 

Names have power. Names have meaning. Names define ngā tangata whenua ‘people of the land’. Names are tapū. Māori employ and bestow ngā ingoa ‘names’ not simply to define or to honour the ancestors and their taonga tuku iho but also to encapsulate the hau ‘essence’ of a place, ngā tūmanakotanga ‘the aspirations’ of its people and to whakamana ‘empower’ an important object or form. Every important building, every waka, every special landscape feature and every precious structure in Māoridom has a name. But who would feel inspired by a sign written name that sits upper case atop this Te Parawhau building – in a small isolated Northland community? In response an anthropologist might well extol the importance of the emic approach, of being a participant in a community and of having access to greater insight into the values and aspirations shared within a group of people. A local might simply talk about tūrangawaewae, tapū and mana whenua.

 

Mark Adams, Te Tirarau mārae, Tangiterōria, 19 January 1995

Attending a tangi at Tirarau mārae in 2017 it was somewhere in the 27 metres that separate the meetinghouse Tirarau and the Pihirau whare kai behind it (see above image) that nomenclature was disclosed in six words. One of my uncles – Te Ihi Tito – called out to me, ‘Hey, you know the story behind the name…’ And out the kupu spilled – like a silver bellied tuna slipping softly out of a supplejack hīnaki.

It was given by Kōwhai Tito. [I remember seeing his portrait with family inside Tirarau. Now the shoots started popping up. One here. One over there. And then another. And the whole wānanga started coming alive].

Mark Adams, Pihirau te whare kai, ko Tirarau mārae, Tangiterōria, 13 January 1994. Referenced in chapter entitled Te Hana ‘the radiance’ (MAORI ART: History, Architecture, Landscape and Theory, Batemans, 2015: 58).

 

On the surface Pihirau is a half-round barn. Aesthetically it might be read as a rather pragmatic structure. It’s form was popularised by the English in their air force training huts during World War II. In turn it was borrowed widely throughout Northland from the 1960s onwards for farm hay barns and vehicle, implement storage and workshop spaces on rural and sometimes in town industrial areas. Maximising the use of internal space it is a building type whose redefinition in this mārae context has always fascinated me. It is the same old ancestral kaupapa and values that have always informed the landscapes, the architecture and the artforms of the indigenous north.

I actually love PIHIRAU’s beautiful combination of abstract shapes and the bare minimal functionalism of the half round corrugated iron barn with its two enormous upright rectangular doors and the voluminous interior. It does its job. I also was delighted in the 1990s to see prints of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers lining the interior. I like the McCahonesque rendition of text that sits slightly oversized atop the stark geometry of the half circle. I accept it’s an art historian talking here and the accompanying sensibility places me in the minority as Te Parawhau is currently considering an overhaul of both the design of the meetinghouse and of the whare kai.  Hei aha. Whatever shape or form the final building takes, for me, the important issue is the hau, the ‘essence’ of the building; its name PIHIRAU, its giver, its history and the wider botanical, geographical and anthropological significance of this ingoa tūturu ‘authentic name’ are maintained. It is these areas, and ngā tikanga ‘customary values’ that underpin them, that form the heart of this essay and help define how we, as Te Parawhau and as Māori, belong to the landscape and to the natural environs.

Leading senior Māori artist Cliff Whiting, in his work with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, once remarked he experienced some difficulty convincing his pākehā colleagues in the New Zealand Historic Places Trust that these kinds of ideas emerging out of the aspirations and sensibility of grass roots communities were actually of primary significance.

He once noted fundamental differences in Māori and pākehā perceptions regarding mana ‘prestige and power’ in the buildings and historic sites his organisation was charged with protecting through their identification and conservation. He, and others like Ngāti Porou leader Apirana Mahuika, understood it was not solely or wholly a matter of size, grandeur, or historicity. Instead they rightly highlighted the less tangible legacy of the mana in a name, an individual or in an event as of supreme local value. All of these areas of ancestral importance were understood as enhancing the prestige and the treasured wānanga ‘narrative’ of a particular site.

In its naming the humble wharekai PIHIRAU at Tirarau mārae, Tangiterōria fits into this kind of paradigmatic shift that leaders, across the indigenous world, make in their references to landscape, buildings and history.

The true reference in the dining hall name is to the thousands of pneumatophores that push their way up through the mud, intertidal silt and leaf debris of the mangrove forests that line pehu on the Kaipara waterways and its voluminous delta. That image of shoots pop, popping up here and over there is an evocative one. In its wider sense the Te Parawhau kupu pihirau meaning ‘hundreds of shoots’ is a word picture referencing the hundreds of acres of mangrove forest that capture the hau of the Kaipara waterways (one of which sits alongside the PIHIRAU dining hall) and indeed typify inter-tidal areas around the whole Northland takiwa. Hundreds of shoots, hundreds of possibilities.

 

rangihīroa, manawa, seedlings, Te Auaunga, Waterview, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2018

 

 

PIHI

...pencil-like roots that stick up out of the dense, wet ground like snorkels. These breathing tubes, called pneumatophores, allow mangroves to cope with daily flooding by the tides. Pneumatophores take...oxygen from the air




https://www.amnh.org/explore/science-bulletins/bio/documentaries/mangroves-the-roots-of-the-sea/what-s-a-mangrove-and-how-does-it-work/

 

As a vigorous coloniser the mangrove has often fared badly in the nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealand psyche regarding perceptions of its usefulness and its central role in estuaries. The manawa is often wrongly cast as a scourge to development and as a troublesome, undesirable plant to both the New Zealand farm and to a real estate industry obsessed with uninhibited coastal views that involve water. Less known and less understood is its enormous botanical wealth, its central role in the seafood chain, its breakwater, storm and earth stabilising properties and its natural beauty and charm. Manawa grow and colonise where the tide take their seed pod. Where the fruit wishes to turn and to drop its roots to settle appears to be an intuitive decision.

Pihirau resonates many other connections with te ao tūroa ‘the natural world’, mahinga kai ‘food gathering areas’ and with te whakareretanga a ngā tupuna – ancestral legacy. Indeed pihirau, in its natural state, cannot be separated from any of these areas. This is why  Kōwhai Tito’s employment of the metaphor is so compelling. The leader’s kōrero whakarite is a richly layered one connecting the numerous oxygenating roots of the manawa with the complex umwelt ‘the environment’ of the mangrove (i.e. an organism’s unique sensory world).

Matua Kowhai’s metaphor concerning the growth and the fertility of the uru manawa has the propensity to say something profound about the fecundity of Te Parawhau but also quite possibly about human identity. Might the central tinana ‘trunk’ of the manawa, for example, be thought of as akin to the central line of the whakapapa with the hundreds of roots that radiate outwards (a number of times beyond the tree canopy) the many tātai that flow and feed back into the rākau?

In the link between mangroves and the haumako ‘fertility’ of ngā mahinga kai the connection with food and abundance is simply extravagant. Uru manawa host the life cycles of many other insects, birds and fish that in turn have historically sustained and provided for Te Parawhau. Mānawa are sea gardens and home to the karatī (baby tāmure), parore, kopīpiro, ngāoheohe, kātaha, mohimohi, kokowhāwhā, kanae raukura, pepe mango and tuna kawari ‘spotted mud whelk’, tuangi ‘cockle’, werewere ‘barnacle’, parore tio ‘oyster’, papaka and the karahu ‘sea snail’. In and amongst their canopy live many birds: the pōpōtai, riroriro, piwakawaka, matuku moana, pīpīwharauroa, matuku-hūrepo, kōtuku ngutupapa, pūkeko and the kawau tūī.

The birds take the locations of their homes very seriously. In the early evening just before the sun would set behind Omokoiti I have observed the kāhu flying back through South Kaipara valleys to their nests out in the Kaipara mangrove forests. Uru manawa are then vibrant symbols of whenua papatupu. By this I am broadly referencing Te Parawhau land and intertidal sites involving food provision, mahinga kai/mahinga ika and places for the cyclical nurturing and the growth of numerous organisms, plant materials (swamp paru hei ngā tae), birds and fish used by tūpuna.

 

rangihīroa, manawa seedling, Te Atatū, Waitematā, 2018

 

                       Oyster-studded roots

                 of the mangrove yield no finer feast

                 of silver bellied eels, and sea snails

                       cooked in a rusty can



 Hone Tuwhare,‘Friend’, Small Holes in the Silence, Vintage,2016:44

 

rangihīroa, uru manawa, Te Atatū, Waitematā, 2018

 

Haruhiko Sameshima, pehu, Kaipara river, Kaipara ki Tonga, 26 September 1996

 

The genus and local essence of matua Kōwhai’s image then is botanical. Long misunderstood the Te Tai Tokerau manawa is in fact unique to northern New Zealand (i.e. north of Ohiwa-Tai Rawhiti and Kawhia Tai Hauauru – see earlier Google map) and to the world. Avicennia marina: subspecies – Australasica is the only one native mangrove that grows here and is the southern-most edge of mangrove forestation in the world (a family that includes around 70 species). More importantly, for this essay, the manawa is a feature of Northland’s harbours and estuaries and in particular – the Kaipara. Since 2010 it has been acknowledged as a protected native tree.

It is difficult to get across how special these inter-tidal rākau are, in their forest setting, without physically seeing them from the water. En masse they rise up majestically 4 or 5 metres above the Kaipara waterways and in other harbours further north like Whangaroa they have a very domineering appearance over their surrounds. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed by these sombre, deep green forests as one quietly passes by them on open water? Ihenga, a Te Arawa ancestor visiting whānau in the North, once complemented his hosts and extolled the value of the roasted para ‘king fern root’ as kai and as the essence of the region. However, when out on the water one cannot avoid seeing the hau manawa, the vitality of a mangrove forest, unimpeded by farmers or by developers and growing freely as they should, as today ‘the essence’ of Kaipara itself. The manawa really does belong to Kaipara and to Te Tai Tokerau.

 

Mark Adams, mangrove forests banks and mouth, Ōtamatea, lower Northern Wairoa, Kaipara, another aerial image taken 27 October, 1998. According to Northland Regional Council estimates Kaipara, as with four other major Tai Tokerau harbours, has around 1000 hectares of mangrove forest. Manawa perform an essential role in helping filter the harbour system, in retaining and making use of mobile sediment, in stabilising tidal fluctuation and in protecting against, absorbing and nullifying the adverse effects of breakwater, floods, storms and coastal erosion and in providing spawning grounds for important Kaipara species. The scale of the forestation in sites such as the Kaipara Harbour can be seen in Adams image taken from the air. Simply through their sheer ability to survive a rapidly changing deforested and even urban environment demonstrates in itself the way they continue to play a very important role in New Zealand’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems.

 

Returning to Whiting’s view of taonga the value Māori place on treasured forms relates not simply to what you think you see in the empirical, the scientifically verifiable cosmos in front of you but rather to the entire natural world in which the little things seen immediately are more broadly related. The ‘intangible’ is rarely what a satellite camera, or what a Mark Adams large format analogue camera can pick up. The ‘other’, in relation to a building such as PIHIRAU, is a different world entirely accessed and received through kōrero, ritual, whakapapa, long-term trust and through familial belonging. Let me, though, entertain this tangible area a little longer here to further explore this kaupapa.

Expectations of easy, accessible knowledge are both public and global. The Google Earth search engine promises, for example, ‘to explore the far reaches of the world, right in your browser’. Request ‘Tangiteroria’ (i.e. the location of the Pihirau building) and a globe will spin away from Africa and South America out into the vast blueness of the Pacific ocean and then down to Aotearoa, down, down further still into the North Island and then Northland closer and closer until…It tantalisingly hovers, stuck in the clouds, somewhere over the tiny Tai Tokerau settlement. Here buildings and ground features become a blur. Without paid access, to further cameras and greater detail, there is no more photographic information.

There are however limitations to what Google can offer. Here’s what the net search says. Tangiterōria lies 179 kilometres away from Auckland by road. It involves 2 ½ hours travelling time north of Tāmaki. It is 3.02 pm. It is early July 2018. It is the day after Matariki ‘Māori New Year’. This, appropriately for this discussion, is a time Māori traditionally made plans and envisaged the future. A reading tells the searcher a temperate 13 degrees celsius has been reached. It is mid-winter weather typical of this time of year in Aotearoa. There is further local information regarding broken cloud that can be seen covering, obscuring parts of the region.

Through the patchwork of cloud Google allows a searcher (if one knew what one was looking for!) to roughly sight the Tirarau mārae complex, the river that it sits beside and further structures that sit downstream. One can follow mapped coordinates. A tiny nineteenth century Anglican church is positioned alongside a Te Parawhau urupā. The Pihirau building is a part of this eclectic group. The rough layout is useful. It provides a plan view of the mārae and surrounds documented (i.e. from the ground, by boat on the Kaipara waterways and from the window of a hired plane) in images throughout this essay. From the height of the satellite one can make out the layout of the orange roof of Tirarau meetinghouse with its porch at the front and with its grey lean-to (that holds its paepae of ancestral leaders) at the rear. The pale brown rectangle of Pihirau dining-hall is discernible along with the urupā and small whare Mihinare (lower right) 250 metres downstream on Pukehuia Road running parallel to the meandering brown upper Northern Wairoa River and the fertile oxbow of Piritaha opposite. Speeding towards Dargaville across the bridge (a little further upstream) spanning the upper reaches of the Northern Wairoa River on State Highway 14 (the grey straight road that doglegs upper centre) one might also easily miss Tangiterōria altogether. The place it is that small.

Here is the point in all this detail. One could read this technical, geographical information, provided 244 metres in the air via the satellite camera and not be any clearer regarding the cultural significance of the view. The more comfortable Māori way of dealing with this obfuscation would be to weave this bricolage of ancestral sites into the broader whakapapa and family to which these buildings and wahi tapū properly belong.

This belonging involves the intangible, the invisible, the spiritual, the cosmological, the ancestral and is a constantly referenced co-existent tūrangawaewae ‘place to stand’ in Māori thinking and kōrero. The ‘other’ map that Google doesn’t reference, that I am outlining here, is one frequently referenced by Māori in ngā kōrero whakarite ‘metaphors’ and ngā waitohu ‘symbols’. The primary purpose of applying these philosophical constructs is whakawhanaungatanga or making the taonga belong within its family context. This might be a botanical family, an ancestral family, an architectural family and/or a language family. In the Māori world everything must belong.

3 Google maps, 2018 (above): Tangiterōria. Detail (top) showing Tirarau mārae (est. 1958) and the wider context with State Highway 14 crossing the upper northern Wairoa at Tangiterōria half-way between Dargaville and Whāngārei (middle). The Te Parawhau leader Te Tirarau’s pā (established 1838) sat on the edge of the oxbow which carries the same name Te Aotahi (upper right in the middle image above).  The lower map stops at Raglan (i.e. near Kawhia) on the West Coast of Waikato rohe and this is recognised as the southern boundary of the great manawa forests passing across to the East Coast (not described) towards and including Ōhiwa harbour just south of Whakatāne.

In terms of people belonging to their landscape the manawa helps one belong. It takes the map somewhere else. Further, the central role of maharatanga ‘memory’ and whānau networks, as they pertain to ancestors renders Tangiterōria, perhaps surprisingly for some, a richly layered site through a broader web of interconnections with other rivers, tūpuna, taniwha and terrain.

Long before satellite cameras were sent into orbit or even cameras from balloons were first employed for military reconnaissance during the Napoleonic era (Franco-Austrian war 1794) our tūpuna conceptualised the land from the air. Te Parawhau, and speakers from many other northern rohe, have traditions of orators skilfully employing the aerial view – what I will describe as the vantage point of the manu karere ‘messenger bird’. This keen awareness of geographical context, the conceptual layout of the land goes well beyond early Māori excursions into cartography (i.e. see Tuki – Ngāti Ruamahue, Wainui, Whangaroa – map of Aotearoa drawn for the Governor of New South Wales in 1793) and back to our proto Polynesian ancestors and their discovery of land in the Pacific. Ngāpuhi regularly use the Te Tai Tokerau region to spatialise te whare o Ngāpuhi composed of key iconic mountains that encircle the rohe.

The Māori map, as with all Polynesian spatialising of the Pacific, esteems broader family connections. These are relationships and networks, not cartographical in nature, that avoid the isolation and the weakness of singular components. It is the Polynesian hero Māui who is celebrated in Aotearoa as using the magical jawbone matau of Muri-ranga-whenua to fish up the North Island of Aotearoa from his vessel – te waka a Māui ‘the South Island’.  Many of the landscape features of the North Island, as with many islands throughout the South Pacific, are read as the distinctive body (i.e. mouth, tail, spine, fins and so on) of a living form that relates back to those who originally discovered the lands. In the case of Aotearoa it is an ika ‘fish’ or te hutinga-a-Māui that is referenced in a number of our origin stories. Māui is not just a mythical hero, Māui is made to belong. He is both an ancestor and he claims the land – that is ancestral.

As part of his evidence, presented by Te Parawhau at a Waitangi Tribunal sitting, matua Te Ihi Tito employed this kaupapa in his whaikōrero. Sometimes matua is the manu karere ‘messenger bird’ that soars above his vantage point to swoop down over parts of the tribal region he wishes to pick out. During the tribunal kōrero he is also (i.e. in terms of shared whakapapa) the water that starts from within the mists that starts to rise from our shared cosmology (i.e. te wehenga o Ranginui rāua ko Papatūānuku) and the rain that falls as the tears from the skyfather. Empathising with the mamae of Tane’s forcing the primal parents apart matua moves on to the water that wells up from within Papa and our local matapuna, that collects in our watersheds and that courses through the network of waterways that broadly and more deeply establish our kotahitanga ‘unity’ throughout our Te Tai Tokerau rohe.

At various points in his gathering of these waters matua refers to links between Te Parawhau, Te Uriroroi and, in the wider tribal sense, to te whare o Ngāpuhi. The land is a tinana with arteries pushing around the blood that connects its tāngata whenua. These estuarine lands, historically not quite land not quite water, are lungs inhaling and exhaling; tai pari, tai timu. They, the pukapuka ‘lungs’, are named. They are the vast marshlands of Hikurangi and the tide of Rahiri, our northern eponymous ancestor. The mention of the latter ancestor hints at tapū sites like the impregnable pā of Whīria connected with both the eponymous tupuna but also with occupation as far back as our proto Polynesian ancestor Kupe.

rangihīroa, wānanga run by Ngāti Hau o Mangakāhia, atop Whiria, Pākanae overlooking whanga Hokianga 2015

 

Mark Adams, looking across the Papakanui Spit, Kaipara ki Tonga and Te Moana tāpokopoko-a-Tāwhaki towards Pouto, North Kaipara Head

 

Mentioning the wider highways of water also alludes to the passage of ngā tūpuna between northern affiliations like Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Ngiro and Ngāti Ruangaio and back to the inner reaches of the Hokianga, to Ngāti Hau of Ōmanaia. This is a landscape alive, bursting with lifegiving properties, with mana, with hau and with mauri. It speaks with the language of memory; te maumaharatanga o te waiheke and of tātai ‘plans and ancestral lines’, of whānau and of begetting.

There is a fluid movement between the spiritual and the physical landscape (i.e. Google map). There is here a mahere pae tukutuku ‘site map’ brimming with taniwha and portents that inhabit waterways. Listening to the kai kōrero the listener sees what these beings see. The listener sees the portent of Rangiriri – the frightening black tōtara log that punches against the violent tidal shifts and undertows of tidal Northern Wairoa. The taniwha on whose branch a kawau ‘shag’ quietly sits. The listener experiences the mountains the log quietly passes, and nearer the graveyard at the meetingplace of Kaipara’s five rivers the listener hears the awe-inspiring rumble of Te Moana tāpokopoko-a-Tāwhaki.

Mark Adams, View from Ngitu Pā over Papakanui Spit, looking towards Te Moana tāpokopoko-a-Tāwhaki, whanga Kaipara. This lagoon below is associated with the taniwha Pokopoko.

In this taiāwhiotanga o ngā whenua ‘encircling of the land’ recounted in Te Ihi’s wānanga one witnesses all these geographical components operating as part of the breathing pneumatophores of matua Kōwhai Tito’s manawa. The waterways and the ancestral pathways are the oxygen that provides sustenance for the central growth of the tinana ‘the body’ of the manawa. What else does one need to breathe and to belong?

Ka moe a Mangakāhia, ka moe i te Wairua, ka puta ki waho ko te Wairoa me tona mana a Hoeroa, ko Pokopoko, Kahukura ngā taniwha ā ko Rangiriri te rākau whakangautai...Ka rere te tai tapu ki Waihīhī kei raro ngā maunga Whatitiri, Tangihua, Tūtamoe, Tokatoka, Maungaraho, Maunganui, me o rātou whakataukī e...                  

Te Ihi Tito, kaumatua, Te Parawhau

 

 

 

 

 

Hamish McDonald, logo design for PIHIRAU, 2008