Making Maori culture more accessible in the south
Two Southland men are trying to make Maori culture more accessible, starting with art.
Tahu Parkinson and Oti Murray formed the Te Taonga Mauri trust in February 2016 because they were unhappy with the amount of accurate information available for the public about Maori culture and heritage.
Trust director and head carver Oti Murray said it was important to preserve Maori culture and make it accessible for everyone.
"We preserve history and tell stories through carving."
The trust had competed two Maori sculptures that were set to be unveiled outside Ngai Tahu Fisheries in Bluff in March.
Both sculptures drew inspiration from historical figures; their identities would be unveiled with the art in March, he said.
The two 3-metre high steel sculptures took three months and more than 400 hours to complete.
"More than one dozen volunteers helped out on the sculpture."
It was difficult at first to source an engineering company who could make the project happen.
The intricate designs on the side of each cylinder took two weeks to template, Murray said.
Each design was then cut out with a plasma cutter, by hand.
The works were traditional and sacred, he said.
It was the Maori belief that within each sculpture lived a piece of the subject's life force, Murray said.
"As a traditional Maori carver, it is important to ensure the safety of the Mauri [life force]."
Te Taonga Mauri trust digital co-ordinator Tahu Parkinson said, although they were artists, the trust was about more than just art.
They had big plans lined up for this year, he said.
"We are a voice for people in the community."
Their doors were always open for anyone wanting to learn or just have a chat, he said.
"Art is a portal for us to help support a better living standard in the community."
The trust was finalising plans to build sustainable and eco-friendly housing for low income earners and families, he said.
Te Taonga Mauri trust are looking for engineers and architects to get behind the project.
If you are interested in getting involved visit the Te Taonga Mauri trust workshop at 156 Tay Street Invercargill.