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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

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"
The Māori differs from most Pacific peoples in that few straight lines appear in his art. His carvings are involved designs of curves, loops and spirals. The spiral is common in all Māori art — it is vigorous and distinctive and takes several forms — yet its origin is unknown. The mystery of the spirals has intrigued ethnologists for decades …
– From the narration
These early people had an inborn sensitivity to match the style of decoration to the everyday articles they ornamented. This is evident in the carving on their flutes, their bird snares, on the ends of fighting staves, the handles of canoe panels … the meaning of this decoration is obscure, we wonder how much of it was thought to be magic and how much was merely decoration?
– From the narration
For nowadays the Māori finds little call to decorate his house, or even his store house. Decoration is no longer required on musical instruments, and personal ornaments come from a ship; designs are no longer fashionable on the skin and the bough of a canoe today is purely functional … the native arts have languished, almost disappeared.
– From the narration