Creativity is a core aspect of Maaoridom, with knowledge traditionally passed down through Toi Maaori. Waikato’s rich history means indigenous art is embedded in the Kiingitanga movement, Turangawaewae Marae, and throughout the rohe.
“Toi envelops all aspects of Maaori living. Knowledge from tiipuna is held within the taonga, patterns, reo, mooteatea, waiata, historical stories and whakapapa. It is a direct connection to the maatauranga of Maaori tiipuna, which is a source of strength for Maaori. It is not a commodity. It’s a subconscious cultural expression of connection with taonga and tiipuna.”
FutureForce® caught up with Renata Te Wiata, who serves Kiingi Tuuheitia – the Maaori King – and works for the Waikato-Tainui Iwi as Head Carver.
Renata Te Wiata
“I think our rangatahi need to sit down with their nannies and koros, because a lot of our old people are really good at stuff, and we have to get young people learning to retain the knowledge.”
More about Toi Maaori…
Renata Te Wiata
Waikato has numerous traditional Toi Maaori experts in:
- Raranga (weaving)
- Whakairo (carving)
- Kapa Haka
- Uku (ceramics)
- Tukutuku (woven panels)
- Korowai (cloak)
- Tā Moko (traditional tattoo)
The influence of Toi Maaori can also be seen in:
- Contemporary music
- Poetry and writing
- Performing Arts
- Graphic Design
- Fashion Design
HOW RENATA GOT INTO THIS MAHI…
- As a child, Renata learned the craft from his Paapaa, taking mental notes of his different connections and teachings…
“Dad had a really unusual way of teaching… he never really showed me what cuts to make, but he would just carve one half and then say to me to carve the other half. It was a funny way of teaching, but it worked!”
- Every piece of work is deeply rooted in Kiingitanga principles…“That’s what gives us purpose… our number one focus is on supporting the King, it was Dad’s life and now it’s mine and my older brothers… it’s a way of life. You live it, you breathe it.”
“I want other young people to think, “oh, he’s only a young fella, if he can do it, I can do it!’ I think our rangatahi need to sit down with their nannies and koro, because a lot of our old people are really good at stuff, and we have to get young people learning to retain the knowledge.
It’s really satisfying what I do… I could be cutting up stuff with a chainsaw tomorrow and then be on fine stuff another day. I love it. It’s the best job!”
LEARNING ABOUT WHAIKARO
SKills & SUBJECTS
If you’ve always wanted to learn about whakairo (Maaori carving), Kaawai Raupapa – Certificate in Maaori and Indigenous Art Level 4, Te Waananga o Aotearoa is a great place to start. You’ll complete practical projects and learn the hands-on processes for carving. Kaiako (tutors) are experienced carvers who’ll teach you the techniques, history and tikanga associated with the ancient art form of whakairo.