A tale of three kete and a puhi ariki
|Image: Three kete, 2020.|
Three beautiful kete by kairaranga Muna Lee (Te Ati Awa, Taranaki Tuturu) have been welcomed into the Angela Morton Room Te Pātaka Toi Art Library. These taonga, inspired by early Māori association with Takapuna, grew from an earlier commission where Muna wove a replacement puhi ariki for the two metre long waka taua which rests in the Room.
|Image: Paul Estcourt. Courtesy of New Zealand Herald archive, 3 August 2010, New Zealand Herald.|
|Image: Paul Estcourt, courtesy of New Zealand Herald Archive, 3 August 2010, New Zealand Herald.|
In 2012, while on display in Takapuna Library, the original chicken-feathered puhi ariki which trailed from the taurapa (stern post) went missing, and in 2016 Erika Muna Lee wove a replacement. She used toroa (albatross) feathers because she felt that our large seafaring bird was appropriate to the journey of the waka. Muna extracted the muka and plied the strands then wove a three strand whiri (plait), and she pelted the toroa herself. The morning after Muna attached her puhi ariki to the taurapa, the original puhi ariki reapppeared trailing alongside the new.
|Image: Two puhi ariki, the original chicken feather one and Muna Lee’s with toroa feathers.|
|Image: Kete Kūmara, 2020.|
|Image: Unknown photographer. Pohutukawa of the Sacred Grove, northern end of Takapuna Beach, 1901. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, T0257.|
It was the custom for ancestors’ bodies to be placed in the fork of these pōhutakawa, and when decomposition was complete the skeletal remains were relocated to a safe haven. The decaying nutrients of the ancestor would ultimately be taken up by the host tree and therefore would become the ancestor, meaning the tree in its entirety became tapu/sacred. Historically, travellers passing the trees placed floral tributes at the foot or hung garments in the branches as a mark of respect, and to ensure safe travels.
|Image: Kete Pīngao, 2020.|
|Image: Kete Kiekie, 2020|
The kete and waka taua are available to view daily in the Angela Morton Room, along with prints by John Pule and Betty Curnow, and photography by Edith Amituanai. All these treasures are held within the embrace of patterns painted on the surrounding glass walls and windows by Tracey Tawhiao.
Angela Morton Room Te Pātaka Toi Art Library, Takapuna Library
Arts Access Aotearoa: https://artsaccess.org.nz/insdeout-showcases-prison-art
Channel magazine, August 2010, “Inside Out.”
NZ Herald, 5 August 2010, “Prisoners hobby room art benefits crime victims.”
North Shore Times Advertiser, 6 March 2010, “Artworks from prisoners is showcased.”
North Shore Times Advertiser, 8 December 2010, “Prisoners’ art raises $7450.”
Rangitoto Observer, 15 March 2015
Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan 2013