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Mammoth Ivory Maori Carving


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Te Wairua o Te Rauparaha


My earliest memories of Maori history and culture at primary school, was learning about the great warrior chief, Te Rauparaha. Significant for one, because during his heyday he ruled over the greater Wellington/Horowhenua region where I grew up as well as large parts of the upper South Island, and also because sitting in the same classroom with me was his great, great, great, great grandson. The same grandson who was to be my groomsman almost 30 years later.


It is said that his coming was predicted well before his birth. And as predicted he became a senior chief of Ngati Toarangatira, the name of the Iwi meaning the descendants of warrior chiefs, and he gained a fearsome reputation as a great leader in strategy and combat. It is said that some of his battle tactics were adopted by the colonials and practiced during the Boer War, which also influenced some of the trench warfare tactics used by the Allies in WWI.


Early Pakeha traders were very respectful of Te Rauparaha, and dare not incur his wrath. But Te Rauparaha was well aware of the prospects Pakeha could provide and welcomed them into his region, which only increased his mana amongst his people and other Iwi. He was also wary of them, and feuds over lands rights and lack of understanding by the colonials of the Maori way, eventually led to his arrest.


So much can be written about Te Rauparaha, a man who was widely respected by his fellow chiefs, including his enemies. But perhaps today he is more widely known for creating the national haka, Ka Mate, used by the All Blacks as well as many other national teams.


This piece is a dedication to Te Rauparaha and the dominance and mana he attained over central New Zealand during his reign. It is made from mammoth ivory from the Netherlands, representing the European influence and materials that helped Te Rauparaha's path to power. It features the Cook Strait that lies between the North and South Island and the awesome currents that flow, reflecting Te Rauparaha's strength. The pakati surface decoration on the lower section goes in different directions, reflecting those currents and Te Rauparaha's ability to overcome great obstacles. It also reflects the great migration where he led his people to new lands.


The lower section shows Te Rauparaha's inspiration to generations. The notching on the bottom edge shows peaks and troughs that reflect New Zealand's landscape and history. The paua inlay representing the people sits next to the tongue of Te Rauparaha. In his day he was famed for rousing his warriors into frenzy, and often led them into crushing victories against formidable odds. And even today when a nation stops in silence, stands tall with pride, and gazes on with admiration, as our national teams perform his haka.


Stuttering, I withhold

my desire to rend open

the entrance-way

at this pit of the winking eye

barrier for the lightning-flash incantations

Glinting yonder are the angry eyes

Will you bring me disappointment for me, sir?

I breathe strength! I am awesome, wary!

Who is the man so fully aroused,

searching the bone pits,

The dog pits where the great chief hides?

I am alive!

Ah, it's death, it's death

It's life, it's life

it's death, it's death,

it's life, it's life

This is the hairy man

Who fetched the sun

and caused it to shine

Stepping upwards

Again, stepping upwards,

The sun shines!





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What on earth can be said about this latest work except that at usual you have transcended any and all expectations?

I have followed with interest your journey on your blog Toi Rongomau

I can only hope that someday I can travel a small part of the way that you have travelled.

Awesome Korero

Kapai doesn't even come close to what I want to say but as a Pakeha myself, that's all I can come up with

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Ātaahua kōrero billy, lol you stare at rangis mahi, I stare at yours, lol ka wani kē ! :D , thanks bro, I have enjoyed the path that your kōrero paki took , and I appreciate your time taken in sharing the journey. As always the journey and the destination are both an inspiration and insightful'


Ka mau te wehi o ngā taonga !!!


Ka kite āno


PS bro ,methinks you have some oooold peeps whispering in your ear ;)


‘All born of this land are of this land. All who sleep beneath the mountains of this land are of this land. All who have come to this land and call it home are of this land.'

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Kia ora for the kind comments all.


The day I actually hear some Koroua whispering in my ear Mace, I'll let ya know. Yes Rangi saw that comment, his advice was welcome as always. I still have plenty to aspire to.


'Kapai' does it just fine Baz.


Glad you enjoy the blog. Ka kite

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Cheers Brian.


I come up with the designs myself. I use traditional motifs and symbols from the Maori culture I grew up with and put them together in my own way to tell my stories.


Thanks for the interest. Kia ora. Billy.

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