(Story courtesy of the Whanganui Chronicle)
A master carver will lead a group of young people in carving a pou to welcome visitors to National Park township and the surrounding area.
The project has received $50,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund’s (PGF) skills and employment programme, Te Ara Mahi. The funding will enable up to six rangatahi aged 18 and over to experience carving two mornings per week over two months, working with Uenuku master carver Kura Wanikau-Tahana-Tūroa.
Uenuku Charitable Trust treaty project manager Steve Hirini said a Waimarino totara had been found for the carved pou, a waka mutunga, which will stand in the Park and Ride area in National Park township as a welcome from tangata whenua to manuhiri (visitors), wishing them a good day in the rohe.
“Before the sawmilling days and the North Island main trunk railway, these magnificent taonga species stood in abundance in the Waimarino area,” Hirini said.
“The project will engage Uenuku youth in an educational experience to produce traditional carving and waharoa. It will give them an experience of achievement, a sense of mana and the inspiration to move into employment.”
Kura Wanikau (Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou and Ngāpuhi) is a master carver in wood, stone and bone, as well as a tattooist, clay sculptor and two-dimensional artist.
He was involved in a series of introductory Auckland-based carving modules run for rangatahi in the late 1970s, studied with some of New Zealand’s greatest master carvers (Dr Pakariki Harrison, Pene Taihapa and John Taihapa) and Pākeha historian, linguist and master carver Jock McEwen. He was also inspired by the work of Paratene Matchitt, Cliff Whiting, John Walsh and Sir Hirini Moko Mead to explore new mediums and techniques.
He said his life’s work in carving began with the modules for rangatahi in Auckland so he was pleased to be leading the Uenuku carving project.
Provincial Development Unit head Robert Pigou said the project was an example of the benefit of the PGF to people’s lives.
“This project links cultural and economic aspirations and gives young people a better chance in life – what could be better?”
The young people working on the carving will learn about the whakapapa and tikanga associated with carving, carving design, tool preparation, moulding, flat chiselling, pattern work, staining and mounting, and will also collaborate on a storyboard for the waka mutunga. The project will also involve engineering disciplines, civil works and project delivery processes.
“The aspirational pou reflects the desire to achieve commercial revitalisation within the Te Korowai o Wainuiārua rohe,” Hirini said.
“The broad aspiration is to re-establish the economic viability of land and resources, sustain commercial development of these resources and ensure strong industry relationships for economic growth.”
Uenuku Charitable Trust (UCT) will manage the project and Ruapehu District Council will contribute up to $30,000.