Twelve species of Shag breed in New Zealand, eight being found nowhere else. The Shag is an aquatic bird also common in 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 underwater for extended periods of time.
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 non-human 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.
Years ago I became unhappy with a large kauri torso that I had started. I ceased working on it and it remained in my workshop gathering dust until one day earlier this year I demolished it. My Cormorant perched on a rock emerged from one of the fragments and I am very pleased with the result.
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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