Thursday, 23 September 2010

Stunning New Public Art Work for Waitati

By Antony Deaker

The waharoa, 'Ka Moemoea me Ka Tumanako' (the dreams and the
aspirations) was opened at the entranceway to Waitati School on
September 18. The work was designed and carved by Alex Whitaker of
Waitati. The pupils of Waitati School have painted images and symbols
on to the work; they painted ideas about their own future.
Costs of some materials and some labour were supported by Creative New
Zealand through the Creative Communities scheme. The project was also
supported by Te Whare Wananga o Te Whanau Arohanui which provides
studio space and ongoing support to Alex. The wood is an Australian
hardwood from old power poles from Foyle Street, Waitati.
The waharoa is not only a beautiful addition to the school property it
is a significant public art work for Waitati. The school is already
proud to host artworks by Liz Abbot (the Blueskin alphabet mural) and
Mikaela Wilson (ceramic mosaic of New Zealand). This is the first new
local public art work since the Blueskin Library murals and before
that the War Memorial.
The carving style is a blend of contemporary and traditional elements.
The sparse or minimalist carving style is in keeping with the
traditional southern Kai Tahu approach to whakairo (carving) and
adornment and because the wood itself was so hard. The name is in the
southern dialect in which 'ng' is replaced by 'k' hence Ka Moemoea
instead of Nga Moemoea. Alex worked with Kai Tahu carvers on the
adornment project for the Wharetupuna, Huirapa at Puketeraki Marae in
Karitane and he continues to work with carvers at Puketeraki on new
There are three parts to the work. The painted palisade style fence
represents the poutama or stairway. The poutama here represent the
continued striving for higher learning and our personal aspirations,
they can also be a symbol of various ancestors' quest for knowledge as
they climbed through the various heavens notably Tawhaki and Tane.
The Pou or carved poles are on the left hand side Whakaritorito or the
new shoots and on the right hand side Te Aroha the love. The tekoteko
watching over the entranceway from his position just inside the school
is Utonga, representing the steely resolve of the community to stand
beside the school in its work our children.
These works combine to create Ka Moemoea me Ka Tumanako, a potent
reminder of our shared commitment to support our children who
represent our dreams and aspirations for the future.
Alex is now working on possible projects with the Ecosanctuary and the
Warrington Domain. He has smaller works in several local galleries and
is available for commissions.

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