Te Haerenga - Ngā Mau Rākau o Atua Wāhine
Te Haerenga has been a journey of understanding tikanga within design, creating a tikanga-centred practice, and applying this knowledge to a real project - Ngā Mau Rākau o Atua Wāhine. These pieces, three carved weapons, represent the stories and strength of three atua wāhine.
This mahi serves to uplift Māori means of communication through oral history, whakairo, and mau rākau. My focus throughout this semester and my entire time at AUT has been creating work that uplifts Māori people, traditions and values.
This project has been guided by mātauranga Māori at every stage which can be seen in an output that touches on oral tradition, whakairo (carving), the tapu of wāhine (sacred nature of women), mau rākau (Māori weaponry), cultural and intergenerational trauma and, most importantly, tikanga.
These pieces, designed to be CNC routed (a form of digital carving), showcased the pūrākau of the atua Mahuika, Hinenuitepō and Hineteiwaiwa. These women are strong forces that we still call to today in times of need. They remained fierce in the face of adversity and allowed me to fight off the cultural trauma I was experiencing, they are represented through weaponry to reflect this.
Whakairo is vital to the longevity of Māori history, they are the stories we can touch, the tīpuna we can feel. Traditionally, wāhine don’t pick up carving for our ability to whakanoa (remove tapu) although this is iwi dependent. CNC routing was a workaround for this tikanga issue. Other tikanga obstacles I overcame included finding suitable content - wāhine atua are wāhine all Māori lay claim to as opposed to depicting tīpuna that I don't have a whakapapa connection to, the exploration of mau rākau - as used for ceremonial and display purposes instead of as weapons, and for the vast knowledge I was able to source online regarding their design meanings and applications in contrast to carvings found on marae walls.
Every notch on these weapons was carefully considered and adds detail to the stories of these wāhine. Te Haerenga taught me an immense amount about Māori design and my place as a Māori designer.