Ancestral house alive with art and children

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori art exhibition 'Rangiwaho Ihu ki te Moana', is providing a platform for Ngāi Tāmanuhiri to curate their iwi history and educate the next generation, about their whakapapa to taonga, to the moana and to Rangiwaho marae, in Te Tairāwhiti.

Rangiwaho marae elder Mihi Te Rina Harrington says, “The children see the lineage elevated there on display, they see it here below, and they see it up above there. When we stand to conduct greetings, that too is legacy. When we sing, that's genealogy too about Rangiwaho.”

When the Endeavour arrived in 1769, over 100 items were traded with Tahitian navigator Tupaia.

“Fifty men paddled out to the Endeavour to see Tupaia, we had heard of this chief, well known among us, and to us, he was the chief of the Endeavour,” says Kay Robin.

Nearly 40 of those taonga have been returned on loan to Tairāwhiti museum, inspiring the creation of this exhibition with traditional narratives and modern materials.

“They are works from the new world, but the ideas that informed them are from the past, within their souls, their minds and their lineage the thoughts are expressed through these mediums,” says Robin.

It's also an opportunity for the artists to reconnect with their iwi.

Robin says, “Most of them reside outside the region, through these taonga their thoughts and love returns and connect with us, those bonds are made warm.”

Harrington says, “At the end of the day we don't leave the taonga here by themselves, at night we sleep here besides them to keep them warm.”

The new works essentially maintain the rich and unique oral literature of the tribe.