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Hero image for Māori Arts & Culture No. 1 - Carving & Decoration

Māori Arts & Culture No. 1 - Carving & Decoration

Television (Full Length) – 1962

This 1962 National Film Unit production is a comprehensive survey of the history and (then) state of Māori carving. Many taonga are filmed on display at Wellington’s Dominion Museum, and the design aspects of ‘whakairo’ are examined, from the spiral motif to the origin of iconic black, red and white colouring. Finding reviving tradition in new “community halls”, the film shows the building of Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt in 1960, recording the processes behind woven tukutuku panels and kowhaiwhai patterns, as the tapping of mallets provides a percussive presence.

He would shape a wahaika or club from whale bone and balance it nicely. Then he would carve it until it was as elegant as it was deadly.
– From the narration on the "Māori of old New Zealand"