Rei Puta (whale tooth) was valued as much as pounamu (jade). It was an important part of establishing status. The tooth was inscribed or decorated with human characteristics like mouth, nose and eyes.
The shapes created by the positive and negative koru (folded fern form) designs are void spaces to be filled with knowledge of language, history and art. These taonga (treasures) will develop and evolve in the present day, adapting with the changing world.
Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Whanau a Apanui, Ngāi Tahu
Lewis Gardiner is regarded as one of the most innovative and respected Māori jade artists of his generation. In 1994, he graduated in Māori Craft and Design at the Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua. During his final year he was introduced to the valuable medium of pounamu (jade) and was immediately attracted to its artistic possibilities. Māori had always valued pounamu for both its hardness and for its translucent beauty. Lewis was no different — as he says, “Our tupuna (ancestors) have given us, the Māori people, the resource and knowledge base to provide a reference for us and our children for years to come.”
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