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Māuri Waka - Life Force of the Ancestral Canoe

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Explanation by Roi Toia:

Ancient cultures celebrate in archetypal ceremony, the exhale and inhale of life. Many times information was cloaked in metaphor and mythical ideologies…yet when deciphered, a wealth of knowledge radiates.These where manifestations in study, scrutiny and timeless generational hours of observing nature. Over time, a multitude of ‘world knowledge’ empowered these ancestors, allowing them to query… ‘what was beyond the horizon’.

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OBSERVATION:

The celestial star cluster, Matariki (Pleiadies) is observed in the months of June/July in a dawn sky. This heralds a new beginning, a casting of previous cycles and the rebirth or prelude to spring. This ‘measurement’ denotes the period where the land has laid dormant and at rest in the depths of winter. Matariki is important as this time also indicates where nature explodes into life…the harbinger of spring. This seasonal and climatic awareness was yet another complex component of understanding another facet of ‘world knowledge’.

NAVIGATION:

Understanding Matariki and ‘all’ celestial bodies enabled ocean going navigators to use locational stars to travel the full expanse of the Pacific ocean. Ultimately this tradition stitched together the many cultures within the Pacific and Oceania basin as these adventures moved between land masses.

CARVING:

The genesis of this piece was created in the time of Matariki and acts as a cornerstone of this carvings subject matter. In addition, it celebrates the two concepts of ‘observation’, represented in the use of tradition symbology and ‘navigation’, through utilizing the canoe form. Without a deep knowledge and understanding of either, pacific ancestors could not have negotiated what the natural world would have thrown at them.

Their upheaval of culture, the frailty of life and uncertainty of the unknown is historically formidable. Such feats of the ‘human condition’ could well be lost in time if we don’t exalt the wondrous achievements of these extraordinary adventures.

The genesis of this piece was created in the time of Matariki and acts as a cornerstone of this carvings subject matter. In addition, it celebrates the two concepts of ‘observation’, represented in the use of tradition symbology and ‘navigation’, through utilizing the canoe form. Without a deep knowledge and understanding of either, pacific ancestors could not have negotiated what the natural world would have thrown at them.

—Roi Toia

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Roi Toia

Roi Toia

Māori

Ngā Puhi

(1966- )

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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