Matatoki: Mata ā Waka
This exhibition brings together internationally-recognised contemporary Māori carvers who work under the collective ‘Matatoki’ (meaning ‘The blade of the adze, the cutting edge’). The initial core group came together in the mid 1990’s while involved with Waiariki Institute of Technology and New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua. Subsequently their carving has been highly sought after by international collectors, much of which has not been seen by local audiences. They first exhibited together at Rotorua Museum in 2013 in the exhibition titled Matatoki which toured to the Dowse Art Museum.
Mata ā Waka features works by 16 carvers from around Aotearoa including Lewis Tamihana Gardiner, Ian-Wayne Reihana Grant, Simon Lardelli, Todd Couper, Fayne Robinson and Iwi Le Comte. Iwi Le Comte recently won the 2019 Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award with his work Te Ipukarea. The theme for this exhibition Mata ā Waka, addresses long traditions of waka carving, te moana, voyaging, waka, vessels, navigation and new forms melding these traditions.
Alongside these contemporary works are taonga tuturu from the Tauranga Heritage Collection reflecting traditional artworks that relate to the theme including a 700-year-old tīheru (bailer), tauihu (prow), hoe (paddles), toki (adze blades), punga anchor-stones and waka tīwai.
The works display the current strength of carving in Aotearoa New Zealand as an artform, while acknowledging the history, utility and warfare of previous generations. With great reverence and mana, Matatoki: Mata ā Waka honours traditions while challenging conventions and re-conceiving traditional forms.
Artists include Dan Couper, Mike Green, Jason Hina, Tracy Keith, Rakei Kingi, Joel Marsters, Charles Paringatai, Thomas Ratima, Hemi Sungren and Kereama Taepa.
Image credit: Charles Paringatai, Tewhatewha, 2019, Courtesy of the artist