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Māori arts students from NorthTec had a behind-the-scenes tour of Auckland’s War Memorial Museum as part of a recent field trip.
The group, who are all in their third and final year of the Maunga Kura Toi – Bachelor of Māori Art – viewed Tāonga Māori from Te Tai Tokerau which are housed at the museum. The visit formed part of their practical module, Te Tuki a Kiko (Creative Excellence).
Bethany Edmunds, the museum’s Assistant Curator, Māori, organised the viewing and explained that only about five per cent of the tāonga at the museum is on view. She took them through the extensive archives, with the group viewing either whakairo (carving) or raranga (weaving) artefacts, depending on their specialist art form.
After spending the night at Ōrakei Marae, hosted by former NorthTec students who practice the art of raranga on the marae, the group headed to Auckland University to meet Dante Bonica, a leading artist specialising in Māori material culture. He has worked on many museum collections and major marae constructions in New Zealand, and both nationally and internationally he has created and recreated Māori artefacts.
An expert in the revival of Māori material culture, Dante demonstrated the art of both making and using toki (adze), and gave the students an opportunity to see and touch a selection of fibre, stone, bone, wood and shell materials.
On a separate visit, the NorthTec raranga students travelled to Otaua, near Kaikohe, where the waka Ngātokimatawhaorua is housed on the marae. There they met with weavers and carvers who are working to restore the waka, learning about its history and viewing the maro (frontal aprons) and korowai (cloaks) used by Hoe Waka (paddlers) at its launch in 1940 at Waitangi.