The whare tupuna

In their discussion of the Manawa: Pacific Heartbeat exhibition 2003, Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt write: “The Maori believe that the whare tupuna (ancestral meeting house) takes on the form of the body of an ancestor. Roi Toia uses the ceremonial meeting house Ihenga to explain:

Standing in the body of the house (poho), the front slanting facade boards become the outstretched arms (maihi) with the fingers (raparapa) and the pinnacle mask of the ancestor’s face (koruru/wheku) at the apex. The central ridge of the roof represents the backbone or spine (pou tahuhu), with the rafters becoming the ribs (heke). Each rafter is supported by a carved ancestral wall support (poupou) and represents a noted ancestor of the tribe. The centre ancestor-supporting pole is called the heart pole (poutokomanawa). Often Maori people will hongi (press-nose greeting/the exchanging of life essence) to this pole, as it represents the heart of the house and is a sign of respect to the ancestors who have departed to the spirit world. This is but one component of the physical and spiritual connection of the living to their ancestors by unbroken lines of descent. The marae atea (gathering place fronting the meeting house), whare tupuna (principal ancestor’s house), whenua (tribal lands) and turangawaewae (spiritual home/rightful place to stand) are all intricate parts to the “life-giving force” and “heartbeat” of the Maori. (Roi Toia, speaking to Nigel Reading at Ihenga at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua; Ihenga was designed and carved by master carver/tohunga whakairo Lyonel Grant)” (pp.33-34)

Ref: (italics in original) Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt (2006) Manawa: Pacific Heartbeat: A Celebration of Contemporary Maori & Northwest Coast Art. Douglas & McIntyre: Vancouver/Toronto; University of Washington Press: Seattle; Reed Books: Auckland


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in art education, Maori learners and education, Mono- Bi- and Multi-culturalism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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