Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Āwhiowhio a Taramakau • Tornado of Taramakau


  • Medium: tōtara, granite base
  • Size: 24.5 × 20 × 8.5 inches (incl. base)
  • Reference Code: K140901

At the beginning of June 2013, there was a series of four whale strandings on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, between Taramakau and Kawatiri. Tangaroa (the god of the sea) gifted four different species, with the mouth of the Taramakau River receiving the large sperm whale, who was named by the local Rūnanga “Āwhiowhio a Taramakau.” (the tornado of Taramakau). This carving was inspired by those events, by the prevailing weather conditions at the time, and by the working together of all involved in the recovery of this tāonga (treasure).

The design represents four stylised whale heads, being “Koropepe” (the baby pilot whale), “Hinepākura” (pygmy sperm whale) that were located in the Kawatiri district, “Tamakororipi” (a Cuvier’s beaked whale) and “Āwhiowhio a Taramakau” (sperm whale) located on the south side of the mouth of the Taramakau River (between Greymouth and Hokitika). Coincidentally, there were three strandings prior to the opening of the marae at Mahitahi “Te Tauraka Waka a Māui,” and these four strandings precede the approaching marae opening at Arahura.

The four heads come together as one, in acknowledgement of the work carried out on shore to receive Tangaroa’s gifts.

—Fayne Robinson

Exhibited in “Matatoki”, Rotorua Museum (Oct 2013 — March 2014) The Matatoki exhibition was a celebration in recognizing the work and success of some of the carvers who graduated from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and Waiariki Institute of Technology.

Fayne Robinson

Fayne Robinson


Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Apa Ki Te Ra To, Ngāti Porou

(1964- )

Fayne was born and raised in Hokitika (Te Tai Poutini) on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. He graduated from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua in 1984. After another four years as a graduate carver, he tutored in Hokitika before returning to Rotorua to further his knowledge of carving. Trained in wananga (traditional schooling), he is now developing his own contemporary style.