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Pangurunguru • Storm Petrel


  • Medium: basalt, pāua (New Zealand abalone)
  • Size: 27.5 × 15 × 8 inches
  • Reference Code: KX81201


It is not for culturally romantic ideas that I have chosen the Pangurunguru for this piece. The Pangurunguru or Storm Petrel also known by sailors as Stink Pots or Nelly’s, range the entire southern ocean and are the largest in the Petrel family. The Petrel has the capability of regurgitating the contents of their stomachs at will, but despite this disgusting habit plays an essential role in an area where insect life is unsupported due to cold temperatures. In the absence of flies, the Pangurunguru takes on the job of disposing of dead carcasses and thus plays an important role of Cleaner in the Antarctic region. The moral of this is that everything, no matter how apparently unpleasant in its behaviour, has an important role to play in the big picture of things and should therefore be respected and cared for.

I have also heard stories pertaining to navigation on the waka (canoe) that used to cross the Pacific. The navigators of old were aware of the distances these birds would travel from land and could thus deduce the proximity of land when sighting them at sea. They were viewed as good omens and sound company to keep during times of solitude at sea. Their bones were used as needles and awls traditionally.

The representation of the Pangurunguru in association with a fishing hook talks of the wealth of fishing in our southern oceans that must be carefully managed. The Pangurunguru is the lookout that scouts the skies over the southern seas.

The Koru seen in the negative, represents life sustained by this rich food source of the sea.

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey


Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hako, Te Aupouri

(1965- )

Chris’s work is largely influenced by his heritage and traditional Māori forms and concepts which he then lends a contemporary edge to thus allowing the forms to evolve. His work ranges from jewellery through to larger stone sculptural pieces.

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