October 05, 2012
Carvings show social change
The author of a thesis on East Coast carving says they offer a new way to think about tradition and history.
Ngarino Ellis was awarded a PhD from Auckland University this week for her work on the carvers of the Iwirakau School of Ngati Porou.
She says it a cutting edge visual style that hasn’t had as much attention as areas such Te Arawa.
The carvings show how the society rebuilt itself after the musket wars of the early 19th century.
“I focused on the 1850s when pataka and waka taua weren’t being made any more, within a span of 10 years, which I thought was phenomenal, given they had been made for hundreds of years and in their place came decorated meeting houses and I was looking at that and how amazing those patrons were and those communities were to have faith in such a change in the key symbols of their culture and their identity,” Dr Ellis says.
The thesis will be published next year as an illustrated book by Auckland University Press.