The Rugby World Cup 2011 will take place in this country from September 9 to October 23, watch the clock counting down to kick-off on the official website. The country is preparing to show itself in the best light, and refurbished stadiums are part of that effort. Especially of course the temple of our national religion: Eden Park.
Apart from new stands and amenities, there are four carved pou at the four corners, and this is one of them: Rongomātāne, carved by Albert Te Pou, guarding Entry E.
From the interpretive plaque:
Rongomātāne, Maori God of peace, signifies completion in the psyche of man. In contrast to the traits of the Gods Tānemāhuta, Tāwhirimātea and Tūmatauenga, Rongomātāne represents the calmness, fairness and understanding of humanity. He stands with the wahaika at his front to ward off evil and holds a toki behind his back. The toki or adze is a customary symbol of peace between two parties.
Although Eden Park is a realm of sporting confrontation, the presence of Rongomātāne reminds us that contests fought in this arena must be underpinned by the values of respect, fairness and, ultimately, peace.
Pou Whenua: Hinerangi
This pou depicts Hinerangi gazing out over the sea, mourning her husband who had been taken by the waves while fishing the treacherous waters of the Tasman Sea. The carving is by Sunnah Thompson of Te Kawerau a Maki, recently unveiled (April 21, 2011). The full text of the interpretive signage is reproduced at the end of the post. Below is an image of the magnificent context of Te Ahua Point at Mercer Bay; with a bit of imagination one can discern the statue as a tiny mark just left of centre.
Looking South from Mercer Bay Loop Track
Pou Whenua: Hinerangi
Pou Whenua: Hinerangi
From the interpretive plaque:
This carved pou symbolises the manawhenua, or spiritual guardianship of Te Kawerau a Maki, the local Tangata Whenua. It also recognises that this is a special place, one of the oldest settled parts of the Waitakere Ranges.
This Pou specifically relates to an early Tupuna, Hinerangi, a chiefly young Ngaoho woman named in honour of a renowned Turehu ancestress.
Because of her beauty, skill and descent, many young rangatira sought her as a partner. Eventually Hinerangi chose a young chieftain from Karekare and settled there in his village and lived happily until an aitua or tragic accident.
At the southern end of Te Unuhanga o Rangitoto or Mercer Bay was a famed fishing spot known as Te Kawa Rimurapa (reef of the bull kelp). One day Hinerangi’s husband and two others went fishing there and were overwhelmed by a large wave and tragically drowned.
Distraught, Hinerangi climbed to this headland and scanned the seas of Waikarekare, longing for her husbands return. Inconsolable Hinerangi sat on this headland for days until she too died of a broken heart and set off along Te Rerenga Wairua (journey of the spirits) to join her beloved.
Her disconsolate face was forever etched into the rock face of the headland on which she sat. It became known as Te Ahua o Hinerangi (the likeness of Hinerangi) and can still be seen today from the cliffs high above the southern end of Te Unuhanga o Rangitoto (Mercer Bay).
Arataki Visitor Centre with New Pou
Pou Whenua are carved posts erected to symbolise the relationship between the people and the land.
The Arataki Visitor Centre at 300 Scenic Drive used to have a magnificent carved pou which had fallen victim to decay and had to be removed in July 2009. For almost 2 years, there was a gaping empty space which now has been filled by a new one. Carved by Te Kawerau a Maki carvers from fallen kauri from the Waitakere Ranges, this pou represents the ancestry of Te Kawerau a Maki, the tangata whenua of the Waitakere Ranges.
Read more on the press release of the Auckland Council on the occasion of its unveiling on May 6, 2011.
Top of the Pou
Pou Whenua: Huia
This pou whenua stands at the beginning of the Karamatura Loop walk near Huia (map), and tells the story of the traditional name of the area where it stands: Kaingamatura — dwelling place of the deaf. It shows a shark to recall the occasions when the tribe of Kawerau a Maki went shark fishing from here. At one time an illicit liaison of a girl and a man from another tribe was found out, and the pair fled, hiding behind the rushing waters of a waterfall nearby, resulting in temporary deafness. Love won out, there was a happy ending!
From the interpretive plaque: This pou “recognises that this is a special place, somewhere to be enjoyed and respected by all.”
Carved by Te Kawerau a Maki carvers.
Hiding behind the Waterfall
Pou Whenua: Te Piha (Lion Rock)
Lion Rock (te piha) is the dominant feature of Piha (picture below) on Auckland’s West Coast. It used to be possible to go right to the top, but the path has deterorated and now it is closed off about halfway up. At this point one finds a stone bench and this pou whenua. Catrin, a Piha resident, was up there taking in the atmosphere of the place and the sunshine, when she got disturbed by my arrival.
Below is a view of Piha with Lion Rock in the foreground, taken early this year. The pou whenua is just above the slip visible on the rock.
A tiled information plaque contains the following text (explanations of Maori terms added):
“This carved pou [=pole] is a guardian. It symbolises the mana whenua [=customary authority] of Te Kawerau a Maki, the Tangata Whenua [=people of the land] and recognises the importance of Te Piha and the surrounding area. It was unveiled by Te Kawerau a Maki, Auckland Regional Council and the local community.
The pou is dedicated to the memory of Ngati Tangiaro Taua, as this was one of her favourite places.
Why not sit for a while like Ngati Tangiaro Taua, to enjoy the view and allow the wairua [=spirit] of Piha to wash over you.”
Pou Whenua: Montana Heritage Trail
This pou whenua stands at the beginning of the Montana Heritage Trail. Here is the explanation of the term from the website of the Auckland Regional Council:
Pou whenua are carved posts placed strategically on the land to acknowledge and represent the relationship between tangata whenua (the people of the land), their ancestors and their turangawaewae (place of standing).
Beside the carved statue we see our 8-year-old grandson Zac who is presently visiting his Omi and Opa. He traveled by himself (assisted by friendly Air New Zealand personnel) from Sydney to Auckland to fill our house with an abundance of life for about two weeks of school holidays! A most enjoyable visit that will end on Saturday.
Pou Whenua: Karekare
This pou (carved pole) is close to the Karekare car park, in the direction of the surf club. It signifies the spiritual guardianship of Te Kawarau a Maki of the place. “It also recognises that Karekare is a special place to be enjoyed and respected by all.” (From the explanatory sign.)
Pou Whenua: Olympic Park
This pou whenua, like the one next to Glen Eden Library, was carved by Te Kawerau a Maki carvers John Collins and Sunnah Thompson. It stands in Olympic Park (map), off Wolverton Road, not visible from the entrance to the park.
Self-congratulatory footnote: this post marks “100 days of auckland-west photo blog”.
Arataki Visitor Centre (as it was)
The Arataki Visitor Centre is located near the Titirangi end of Scenic Drive (map – not even close to Bethells Beach as Google maps might want to tell us!).
The image (from May 2007) shows the centre in its full glory, complete with pou. Sadly, the carved wooden pole has deteriorated beyond repair and had to be removed. A replacement is expected by the middle of 2010. (For the new version, see the post of May 17, 2011.)
The Centre offers great views of the Waitakere Ranges and the Manukau Harbour from the viewing decks, knowledgeable personnel and information pamphlets, maps, souvenirs, and great information displays, including live weta and geckos. Across Scenic Drive, there are walking tracks with informative signs explaining the native flora of the bush.
Here is a view of the Visitor Centre from way below at the Lower Nihotupu Dam:
Arataki Visitor Centre from Lower Nihotupu Dam
Pou Whenua: Glen Eden
This pou stands outside Glen Eden Library (map), and a flyer about the library has this explanation:
“The Pou Whenua is carved from a single piece of kauri timber and stands 6 metres tall. The top figure in a strong haka pose represents the time when power to hold life and land was mostly physical. The middle and bottom figures represent modern times, one of them being a sports player, the other represents learning. The three figures represent the history of the area and connect to, and value, the library as a source of information and knowledge in the modern age.”
This pou whenua is by John Collins and Sunnah Thompson, Matariki Carvers, Te Kawerau A Maki.
More images of pou in the region will follow later.