In the underworld lives Hine Nui Te Pō, the woman who brought death into the world and receives the wairua (souls) of the dead as they leap down to the spirit world. The Māori feared darkness and the spirits that moved about at night. Dreaming about another person, whether alive or dead, was explained as a meeting of souls in the underworld.
Māori legends tell of the extraordinary exploits of the demigod Māui, the trickster. His heroic endeavours are numerous, snaring the sun, fishing up the North Island are but two.
How Māui met his fate is another story. Seeking immortality for all of mankind Māui knew he had to dispose of Hine Nui Te Pō. His plan was to enter her body by way of her vagina while she slept and kill her. For company on this perilous mission Māui took with him a Pīwakawaka (Fantail). After successfully penetrating her body Māui’s plan went horribly wrong. The Pīwakawaka began singing so loudly that Hine Nui Te Pō suddenly awoke. Realizing what was happening she closed her thighs tightly and crushed Māui. As a result mortality is forever part of life.
I am fascinated by the mythological, spiritual stories held precious by Māori. In particular, the Hine Nui Te Pō and the Fantail myth to me have a very strong mystical and surreal quality to it. I have given her a visor to suggest silence and sightless eyes to suggest darkness. The underworld I feel must be silent and dark.
Te Rarawa, Ngāti Paoa, Te Ātiawa
Rex Homan was born 1940 in Thames, New Zealand of Māori, Irish and Scottish ancestry. He lived in Auckland in his early years before moving to the Bay of Plenty. Rex has earned international recognition as a wood sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s and began working in bronze in the 1980s. His current work is influenced by the culture of the Pacific and displays uniqueness in its diversity of form and dramatic flow of lines. Rex has exhibited in solo, group and jury shows. He has won several national awards for “National Wood Skills” and is represented in corporate and private collections worldwide.
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