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NorthTec carving tutor, Te Kuiti Stewart, has completed the unveiling of a large pou maumahara (pillar of remembrance) in Kawhia.
A dawn ceremony was held on Sunday (4 December), attended by members of the Kawhia Community Projects Trust Inc, Kawhia locals and master carver Te Kuiti, with a group of NorthTec Māori arts students.
The pou, which is almost five metres tall and three metres in diameter, was carved by Te Kuiti over a period of more than two years. It symbolises the linked heritage between the town’s Māori and European cultures throughout history, with one side representing local iwi and the other, the first European sailing ship to arrive in 1824.
Carved from an ancient totara log from a Waikato forest, the pou stands in a reserve near Kawhia Museum. Weighing more than 2.5 tonnes, its reinforced concrete base is decorated with tiles painted by local schoolchildren.
Te Kuiti Stewart is a master carver and teaches whakairo (carving) to students on NorthTec’s Bachelor of Māori Arts – Maunga Kura Toi programme. Students from the programme accompanied him to the unveiling of the pou, which he says will be his last major, solo work.
He says he will now concentrate on passing on the traditional skill of whakairo through his teaching work. His research for the pou’s design contributed to his master’s degree in Applied Indigenous Knowledge on “The Semiotics of Maori Carving”.