Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Whakapakoko Tutei I and II • Sentinel Figures I and II


  • Medium: clay
  • Size: 18.5 × 14 × 13.5 inches (Female)
    Size: 14 × 19 × 14.5 inches (Male)
  • Reference Code: KX30610

These works have their origins in the customary carved figurative forms that surrounded the defensive pa (fortified village), the simple pallisade pou (posts), and the pou whenua (boundary markers). There are references to the waka taua (war canoe) with the forward facing figure of the classical tauihu (canoe prow) and the keel line of the waka ko iwi (funerary chests).

The male figure features a mokomoko (lizard) — a tribal kaitiaki (guardian / protector and messenger). A departure from the customary woodcarvings is in the stance of these works. Clay has allowed me to explore subtle nuances of gesture and tension in the twist of the torso, tilt of the shoulders, and the position of the head, to suggest alertness. I see these works as a natural extension of the larger sculptural figures that I have been working on in recent years.

Manos Nathan

Manos Nathan


Te Roroa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi


Since the mid-1980s, Manos has been at the forefront of the Māori ceramic movement. He is co-founder of Nga Kaihanga Uku, the national Māori clayworkers’ organization, although his background is in woodcarving and sculpture. (He carved the meeting house at Matatina Marae, Waipoua Forest, on his tribal lands.) His clay works draw on customary art forms and on the Māori cosmological and creation narratives. In 1989, he travelled to the United States on a Fulbright grant to visit Native American potters. A reciprocal visit took place in 1991.