'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Traditional Maori Carving

As part of our sculpture unit last term we visited the Rotorua Waiariki Institute of Technology (Mokoia Campus) just out of Rotorua.
As first-time visitors, we participated in the Powhiri (official welcome) onto the Tangatarua ("Two People") Marae grounds, and then were permitted to enter and view the wonderful carving works inside the Wharenui (meeting house). These are contemporary works and took three years to be completed under the instruction of master carver Lyonel Grant.

In the entrance I took some pics showing the detail and patterns. Each pattern has a traditional meaning, although these days many are adapted and recombined to reflect new ideas.

Now, don't laugh, here is my first attempt at carving. I know, pathetic really, but I was unbelievably proud of these little carvings. They are each about 3 cm square.

Rotorua - Roar - tore - roo - ah
Waiariki - Why - ah - ree - kee
Mokoia - More - koy - ee - ah
Powhiri - Poor - fee - ree
Tangatarua - Taa - ngaa - taa - roo - ah
Marae - Maa - rye - ee
Wharenui - Far - ray - noo - ee
Te Reo Maori - Tay Ray - or Mar - or -ree

Note: there is no emphasis on any one syllable over any other.
Disclaimer: These are as close as I can get to the pronunciation, as far as I know it. I'm not a fluent Te Reo (the language of) Maori speaker.


  1. Throughout the world there have been wood carvers whose skill and patience in difficult circumstances with unpromising tools have proved breathtaking. Arguably, you only fully tune in to their achievement when you have a bash yourself. Practice makes perfect.

  2. "...and they called the wind Maa-rye-ee"...

    Sorry, I couldn't help it.

  3. Beautiful. The carvings do tell a story that it is all right for other people to not know. I always wonder what the carver was thinking about during all those hours of work.

  4. YP. Indeed. Except that, for my part, I am practicing my 2D art and there are only so many hours in a day.

    Robert. Goofy. :o)

    Mountain Thyme - welcome to TLVD. There is a similar connection between the North American Indian and his/ her carving work too.

  5. Elizabeth20.6.10

    Breathtaking carvings.
    I have a neighbour who does the most intricate woodcarvings. In his working life he was a watchmaker and worked in very tiny, intricate scale - something he has followed through in his carvings. His tools, some with extraordinarily tiny heads are laid out in grooves,cut into the workbench, each in their specific places, because he is totally blind and has been so from birth. x

  6. Oh my goodness Elizabeth! What an interesting neighbour you have! Thank you for sharing that!

  7. Carving is a very special artform in my eyes. If I'd done your little carvings I'd be over the moon with delight.

    1. GB, I have no idea why YOU keep slipping under my radar too. You have made so many comments on my posts that I have missed. Thank you for this one, and your boost to my ego.

  8. Wow- beautiful. I would love to see and visit, but that looks, well... involved! I would like to try pottery though...

  9. Beau - you left a comment here on TLVD such a long time ago, but it slipped under my radar. Sorry! Thanks for it, and I do hope you have found (made!) an opportunity to make something out of clay by now.