To the Māori people of New Zealand, Tāne, a son of Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) is the mythological God of the Forest and the creator of all its creatures. Birds hold great significance to the Māori and are known as the “Children of Tāne”. The forest chorus of birds gave rise to the saying “te waha o Tāne” (the voice of Tāne) and was used in a metaphorical sense. This sculpture depicts Tāne in the guise of a bird, a Koekoeā or Long Tailed Cuckoo.
This large cuckoo with speckled brown plumage and a very long tail arrives in New Zealand in October after wintering in the Pacific Islands. The old time Māori used the Koekoeā’s arrival as a signal to plant the kumara and its departure prior to winter as time to harvest.
Koekoeā are so elusive that very little is known about their habits. Typical of this bird species, the Koekoeā is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of others, especially in the nest of the Pipipi (Little Brown Creeper). Koekoeā do not hatch their own eggs. The cuckoo eggs hatch first, the chicks then eject the eggs of the host and mimic their calls.
The plumes of the Long Tailed Cuckoo were a favoured head-dress of the Māori. It is said that the mythical hero Tāwhaki, after journeying to the sacred heights, returned with three birds, Koekoeā, Huia and Kotuku to provide his wife with their plumes for adornment. When a child is deserted by the parents, it is said to be “Te parahaka ot te koekoea, the reject of the koekoea”.
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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