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Maori Carving to Enrich EIT Marae

June 27, 2018

Carvers Emanuel Dunn (left) and Te Rangi Robin are working in the heart of EIT’s ideaschool.

Traditional carvers Te Rangi Robin and Emanuel Dunn are making steady progress on pou whakairo that will furnish the interior of the wharenui on EIT Hawke’s Bay’s Te Aro o Tāwhaki marae.  

Of Ngāti Kahungunu descent, the two men are based in the heart of EIT’s ideaschool, where they are creating a total of 40 carved panels over 2½ years.

Over a quarter of the carved uprights have been completed – enough, says Te Rangi, to enrich one wall of the wharenui. 

Traditionally, pou whakairo depict ancestors, but because EIT is an educational institution, a different concept has evolved.

Half the carvings will represent Māori gods while others will represent decades and achievements made by Māori during those periods of time.

EIT’s executive director Māori Tuhakia Keepa says that when the wharenui was officially opened 24 years ago, it was always with a view to completing the interior.  Tuhakia and Te Ūranga Waka’s Head of School Puti Nuku jointly identified who might be included in the project.

As the faculty’s first dean, Joe Te Rito commissioned carvers, including Te Rangi, to design and work on pou whakairo for the exterior of the wharenui’s paepae (threshold) as well as other structures on the marae.

Invited to return, Te Rangi is enjoying being back on campus.  Emanuel, who gained his Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design from EIT in 2010, feels the same.

Once the carvings, worked in medium-density fibreboard, are installed, the men said the result would be like a storybook, with the interior of the wharenui  to be read in tukutuku (woven lattice-work), kōwhaiwhai (painted panels) and pou whakairo.