We look at the context in which the term whai is applied and it is one’s pursuit of excellence in preserving and perpetuating customary guardianship, traditional art forms and oral histories — Whai (Stingray), Kōwhaiwhai (the precursor to Tā Moko, traditional tattooing), Whai Kōrero (to continue on from the previous orator). The sculpture links these three important elements, the mask represents the orator, the kōwhaiwhai is etched into the surface like the precursor to Moko and the form itself embodies the Whai (Stingray).
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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