Native Affairs - Māori carvers receive apology from Taupō Mayor

By Iulia Leilua

The Mayor of Taupō has apologised to master carver Matahi Brightwell and his team forty years after they created Lake Taupō’s iconic Māori rock carvings.

In the late 1970s, Brightwell began work on the carvings with a small team including the late Māori carvers Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia and assistant Dave Pegglun.

For the past 30 years, tourist operators have cashed in on the rock art depicting Ngāti Tūwharetoa ancestor, Ngātoroirangi.  It attracts thousands of tourists each year and is an internationally recognised symbol of New Zealand.

In a ceremony to mark 40 years since the carving was created, Mayor David Trewavas apologised to Brightwell.

“It might be 40 years late Matahi, but on behalf of our community, it’s an honour to acknowledge your work here today.  I’m so sorry it’s taken so long.  Matahi, on behalf of the Taupō people and district, thank you so much.”

But Brightwell isn’t aggrieved and has worked with Great Lake Taupo to create a film about the carvings for tourist operators to use.

“I feel the community that’s prospered around my carving, I feel good about that.  It’s helped this community.  And it’s put pride in my cousins’ hearts in Taupo,” says Brightwell.

For the full story watch Native Affairs tonight at 8pm on Māori Television.

Image credit: Great Lake Taupō