Topic: Te Kahui Matariki (The Strand)

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The seven poupou (figures) on Tauranga's strand were created by local carver James Tapiata to represent Matariki, the stars also known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. In about 1940 celebration of the festival died out. The tradition was revived in 2000, and gains in popularity every year. Photos: Debbie McCauley (8 March 2015).

Looking strange ? see an archived version here

The appearance of the Matariki constellation in the north eastern sky in late May, early June hails the arrival of the Maori new year. This is a time of new beginnings when karakia (prayers) are offered for the health of the soil, the seed, and the harvest. If the stars are clear and bright, the following year will be warm and fruitful: if hazy, a cold winter lies ahead. Matariki was also used as a navigational beacon for ocean travellers throughout the Moana-nui-a Kiwa (Pacific Ocean).

Te Kahui Matariki (The Strand) ........

The first figure, Kahui Matariki, is dressed in a dog skin cloak to reflect the status Matariki holds in the universe. He faces Mauao as a sign of respect to the mountain. It incorporates two other constellations: Tiheru (the Bailer), depicted by two full paua shells on the lower back and Tautoru (Orion), the three smaller shells in an arch on the shoulder. The mokomoko or lizard sits at the back of the head and is symbolic of Maui's journey from Te Wao Tapu nui a Tane (the sacred garden of Tanenuiarangi) to Te Aoturoa (the state we are in now).

Kahui Matariki ........

Kahui Matariki

The second figure is Tupu a Nuku rising from the earth. The koru on top is enveloped by four manaia. The manaia are carved in styles from the South Island, East Coast, Taranaki and Northland. Collectively they represent Nga Hau e Wha (the four winds) and the four seasons.

Tupu a Nuku ........

Tupu a Nuku

The third figureTupu a Rangi, deals with the navagational aspects of Matariki. He holds a navigational instrument in his right hand and extends his left hand out to the horizon.

Tupu a Rangi ........

Tupu a Rangi

Waita, the fourth figure, tells of the travels undertaken by Maori with the hoe (paddle) upright in salute. There is also a modern day reference to the travels that we take in our own lives. This is shown by the unfilled ritorito pattern around the shoulders.

Waita ........


The fifth figure, Waiti, depicts the food-bringing aspect of Matariki. The hands hold kumara (sweet potato) from the garden, and pikopiko (fern fronds) from the forest. Fish are seen on the left leg and a kereru (pigeon) on the right. The ritorito pattern on the upper lip is filled, indicating that the potential is also filled in a physical sense.

Waiti ........


The sixth figure is Waipuna a Rangi. The spiral design portrays the water that hails the arrival of Matariki and the life giving properties of water. The three manaia at the top represent the three iwi (tribes) of Tauranga Moana: Ngati Ranginui, Ngaiterangi and Ngati Pukenga. 

Waipuna a Rangi ........

Waipuna a Rangi

Ururangi, the seventh figure, is carved in the Tainui style paying homage to the links Tauranga Maori have with Kingitanga. The twelve figures represent the Tekaumarua (the Council of Elders), and the main feature represents the Waikato River.

Ururangi ........


This page was archived at Perma cc March 2017

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Te Kahui Matariki (The Strand)


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