Sunday, 6 January 2008

Maori Rock Carvings: Matahi's Gift

The cruise on Lake Taupo on the Ernest Kemp took us to see the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay. They are over 10 metres high and are only accessible by boat. The peaceful spiritual and cultural beauty of these magnificent carvings towering over deep waters are quite awe inspiring.

In the late 1970s master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell came to his mother's land at Lake Taupo and on a boat trip around the Western Bays he saw the cliffs at Mine Bay and saw the opportunity to use them as a canvas for his work.

Matahi decided to carve a likeness of Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Maori navigator who guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupo area over a thousand years ago. In recognition of the multi-cultural nature of New Zealand, Matahi also carved two smaller figures of Celtic design, which depict the south wind and a mermaid. The Ngatoroirangi carving took four summers to complete and the carvers took no payment other than donations to cover the cost of the scaffolding.

The carving has become an important cultural attraction for the region and is a wonderful gift and example of traditional Maori knowledge and skills.

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