The hei tiki is the most iconic of Maori adornment forms. The tiki (carved figure) probably has its genesis with “Tiki Ahua” an ancient Maori narrative that explains the creation of the first man. It is said to represent the stylized human form in utero.
Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Tama ki te Tauihu
Raised in Waitara, Taranaki province, where the Land Wars of the mid-1800s left a bitter inheritance, Rangi is motivated to continue customary Māori art traditions in contemporary contexts. Trained as a carver at the Maraeroa Carving School in Porirua City, he has also mastered the making of taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments), to whakairo (sculpture) and ta moko. The celebrations at Waitangi in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi encouraged Rangi to apply for special admission to the University of Waikato, from which he earned a Bachelor of Social Science in 1993. He enrolled in the Master of Māori Visual Arts program at Massey University in 1999. Rangi is now exploring new media such as Corian, a space-age heatproof and stainproof composite material. His eye for ethnographic detail in wearable works like tiki (carved figures) provides a spin on the historical devaluation of these revered Māori icons and makes them highly crafted, elegant taonga (treasures) that reaffirm their place for 21st-century Māori.
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