Twelve species of Shag breed in New Zealand, eight being found nowhere else. The Shag is an aquatic bird, also common n the northern hemisphere where it is known as the Cormorant. Frequenting rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, harbours and sheltered coastal waters, it feeds on small fish and crustaceans swallowing them whole. Strong divers, they can stay under water for extended periods of time. Between 1890 and 1940, the Kawau, with a bounty on its head, was heavily persecuted with colonies exterminated, as it was thought to be competing with man and eating all the trout. Even today, during duck shooting season, the bird is still persecuted—as many hunters are unaware that the bird is protected.
The most common Māori name for the Shag is Kawau although other specific names are given to certain species. In the world of the Māori, the Kawau were considered children of Tāne, God of the Forest and creator of all living things and Noho-Tumutumu (Perch on stump) a nonhuman female. Not popular as food or used for adornment purposes, the Kawau was nevertheless highly regarded and the source of much metaphor. It was believed the Kawau held formidable powers such as unswerving purpose and determination, patience and superb abilities at diving and fishing.
Artist Comment: All artworks have been sculpted and recycled from recovered damaged fragments from trees felled scores of years ago, which escaped the saws of the timber mill. By way of storm and flood relics eventually came to rest on oceans foreshores and river banks near the sculptor’s homes”.
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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