Rongomau – The Art of Gareth Barlow

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Mauria mai Te Mátauranga 

I was deeply honoured to carve this taonga for highly respected local Maori leader, and modern day Rangatira, Chris Barber.

A wonderful man with supreme mana. The taonga reflects his gift of knowledge and the important role he plays in passing that knowledge on.

The journey in the creation of this taonga was a very special and spiritual experience for all involved.

For those who don’t know, this is a heru. A traditional Maori comb that was worn in the back of the head. Often worn by paramount chiefs, something Chris undoubtedly is.

Mauriora.
Apr 3

Niho Wheku

Lovely chunky piece of material here. Contemporary wheku that is light around the neck, but is heavy in the hand. You can feel the mana in this material. It’s always a worry when you carve it. The wairua of these creatures deserves as much respect as you can muster.

Mar 2

Wheku O Rangatira

First time I have carved this style wheku in a niho. This is the shape that I received the tooth, and it gave me a chance to use the natural cavity for the wheku’s mouth. Love it when a piece naturally lends itself to a final design. Wairua guiding the way

Rangatira were great leaders amongst their Iwi. I’m sure this taonga will find its way around the neck of a great leader one day too.

Mauriora.
Feb 1

Hurihuringa

The best way to prepare for the future, is to reflect on our past.

Heru Niho

A carving for a fellow carver.

The heru was a traditional ornamental comb used to fasten long hair in a topknot. It also indicated the rank of the wearer. Often worn by men of wisdom, it seemed to fit perfect for the recipient of this piece. Mauriora.

Cultures, ancestors. All come together in one beautiful place. They share their stories, their experiences and they are there for us, always.

Whalebone amulet for reciting whakapapa. Whalebone can very very unforgiving. It’s porous nature can be very challenging to carve. Many cavities and imperfections can keep you reassessing the final design. It just shows you who is really in charge.

Dec 2

Pumahara Manaia

Whalebone amulet used as an aid for reciting whakapapa. The manaia is there as a spiritual guardian and a conduit for contacting our tipuna. The notching a representation of the rich whakapapa we all hold.

Every now and then, take a little time to reflect on your past. Share with your tamariki and mokopuna stories of your tipuna. Knowledge from the past can help better prepare them for the future.

Mauriora.
WIP shot of Pumahara Manaia. First non-commissioned work for a while, so happy to share the WIPs with you all. Quite a rustic piece of bone but plenty of solid areas to work. I always sense more wairua when the bone is more porous. I still want more detail. And the strapping will finish this quite nicely. Also got some cleaning up to do, although with this style of medium, you can get away with a little more than others. Mauriora.

WIP shot of Pumahara Manaia. First non-commissioned work for a while, so happy to share the WIPs with you all. Quite a rustic piece of bone but plenty of solid areas to work. I always sense more wairua when the bone is more porous. I still want more detail. And the strapping will finish this quite nicely. Also got some cleaning up to do, although with this style of medium, you can get away with a little more than others. Mauriora.

Paekitawhiti 

Private commission for a Tuwharetoa/Tuhoe gentleman’s daughter. Named after Tuwharetoa’s first wife. Kaupapa pays homage to his daughters’s whakapapa and the sacred mountains that scatter across her Iwis’ land.

Awa Rua 

A customer recently requested a piece the same as Awarua, a piece carved from the legend of the taniwha resident in Porirua harbour. He said it reminded him of rivers and creeks that he used to swim in as a boy in Patea in the ‘Naki. I’m sure those waterways have their own taniwha, but maybe in one of Awarua’s flying adventures, he may have some to rest in Patea as well. I call it Awa Rua (see what I did there). Mauriora.

Korowai – A true Maori taonga. A cloak worn by high ranking Ariki or Rangatira. Woven over months of long hard work using the finest of materials available.

This carving represents the korowai and the prestige it epitomizes. The pakati detail on the front stands for the painstaking work and dedication that goes into making such a taonga, . The detail on the back represents the rangatira themself. The centre line is the backbone – strong and powerful and drawing energy from the flanks. The side detail are the ribs, representing the hapu and whanau, flowing into the backbone for support, and at the same time increasing the power and mana of those who wear it.

Oct 8

Manaia O Whakapapa. A Taonga for someone who likes to chat to ancestors and tell their stories. This piece was carved from the front section of the tooth Paikea was carved from.

Mauriora.

Oct 8

Paikea - The Spirit Of The Whale Rider.

When a customer commissions a carving from me and wants it to represent their respect and love of the ocean, first thoughts are always Tangaroa or Paikea. Usually I would try and be more creative, but for this piece, it made perfect sense.

My customer was inspired by the taonga that appears in the movie Whale Rider, which from recollection is a classic rei puta style pendant. So with that on mind I endeavoured to create a piece to respect Paikea himself, and the majestic Humpback Whale.

I have left the back section largely untouched so the purity of the wairua, the spirit of the whale, is against the skin, close to their heart. The front is a display of respect to that wairua and Tangaroa, God of the sea. The outer, notched section represents the direct descendants of Tangaroa, making this piece a strong whakapapa of the greatest creatures to dwell in the oceans. The pakati inside the notching represent motion, and shows their love of the ocean as they enter and depart from the sea. Contained within the pakati are the turbulent waters of the sea. Often aggressive and unpredictable, but always contained within the pakati and overseen by the ancestors that surround it.

There’s some new styles going on here that I’m pretty happy about, but also excited as I can see plenty of room for improvement and learning while I take on new dimensions.

Mauriora!

Kia ora all. A small piece representing a ‘Naki boy who uprooted his own life, but always feels a connection to his ancestral home in Taranaki.

Mauriora.

The happy couple with their taonga.
Mauriora

The happy couple with their taonga.

Mauriora