Book illustrates a century of Nāti carving history

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Auckland
  • North Island: East Coast

A book about the history of Ngāti Porou carving was launched in Auckland today. It explores the art form's rapid evolution over 100 years leading up to 1930 and the influence the Iwirakau Carving School had in the East Coast region.

A history carved in wood, now carved by the written word by two descendants of Ngāti Porou.

Ngāti Porou Author Ngarino Ellis, says, "It shows that our communities were constantly changing our arts were constantly changing in responses to what was happening in the community. They weren't stagnant and that’s the beauty of art, it can really chart what's happening in the community really clearly."

The book examines the transformation of Ngāti Porou carving by exploring the Iwirākau School of carving.

"So I looked at what I call the super six; Hone Ngatoto, Hone Taahu, Hoani Ngatai, Riwai Pakirau, Te Kihirini and Tamati Ngakaho and some of them went on to teach others and we're sitting in a whare which is part of that lineage,” says Ellis.

Waipapa Marae here in Auckland has strong ties to Ngāti Porou. It was carved by Paki Harrison, a student of Pine Taiapa, who was taught by Hone Ngatoto of the Iwirākau six.

The books illustrator and photographer Natalie Robertson, says, “I hope people take away an understanding of the richness of our history. The richness of the history of our whakairo and seeing our whakairo as a living practice, one that is to be continued and particularly the Iwirākau School of carving."

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