Awesome in appearance, seemingly effortless in its movement, the whale’s majesty is matched only by the mystery that it attracts. Maoridom celebrates the pakake both as a living being and as a spiritual entity. Since Maori have been traveling outwards from Hawaiki using the ocean currents and winds to navigate, they were accompanied and guided by creatures known as kaitiaki (guardians). Such was the enduring nature of these excursions that spiritual guidance was part of a natural process ensuring a successful outcome to an otherwise dangerous journey.
The pakake is a stylized form of the whale breaching the waters surface. The design is indicative of Kae (an ancestor) that is represented in the surface design “tara-tara-a-Kae” and incorporates ‘puhoro’, a reference to the sea with the movement of the waves, tides and currents. Other elements of the design refer to the whale as a guardian of the waka during the great migration.
Roi was born and raised in Southland province in the South Island of New Zealand, although his whakapapa (genealogy) is the Te Mahurehure hapu (sub-tribe) from the Hokianga in Northland on the North Island. In 1983, he received a three-year apprenticeship to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, where he learned to carve with the adze and chisel and graduated with honours. He has carved on four whare whakairo (carved houses), which fuelled his passion for perfecting the technical aspects of his art and led him to learn about the ideology and spiritual aspects of carving.
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