New 12 stone sculptures to mark Māori lunar calendar

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Te Mata o Rehua Maramataka is a new Māori lunar calendar on display in South Auckland. 12 sculptures by 10 local carvers including rough sleepers have been created to celebrate the Māori New Year.

The unique carved stone moon calendar is proving a hit with the local community.

“I think it's awesome that I see a resurgence in Māori taonga. Passion that people put into what they're doing here,” said Lillian Tipene.

“And it's probably stronger than I've ever felt it and seen it since I've been away.”

“I haven't even seen anything like this so yeah I'm truly inspired by it,” said Lisa Burke, “I really do want to learn more about why we're here.”

For the last five days, the carvers led by senior carvers Darryl Thompson (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Filipe Tohi (Tonga) have created sculptured pou that reflect stories of the stars and seasons, to create the portable stone compass.

“Each carver fashioned their own interpretation of the sign or season of the Māori lunar calendar,” said council spokesperson Rawiri Rameka.

Self-taught sculptor Uenuku Harawira of Waikato and Whanganui, has carved Hine Raumati, to reflect the summer stars marked by Rehua.

“I'm alone most of the time my conversations consist of dust and grinders and chainsaws,” he said.

“So to bounce off other artists that are doing the same thing, but right next to each other is a very rare occasion.”

Five local carvers and five Manukau rough sleepers, who didn't want to appear on camera, sculptured the rocks from Ōamaru, to upskill them in this art form.

“I had Rākaunui, which is the energy moon,” said carver Te Toka Goodgr Waikato of Waikato.

“Put a manaia over half a moon and a wheku (face) inside one of the half moon. The Manaia looking at the wheku (face) for the energy from out of the moon.”

The pou will be used for multiple purposes within the community, including a teaching resource and discussing traditional Māori lunar systems.