Legend focus of carving

An important aspect of Maori heritage is its intricate and detailed carvings.

Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu carver Greg Houkamau was 16 years old when he started to learn the art.

Thirty years later, he has improved his skills and says he appreciates the tradition more.

"Maori to me personally is one of the best cultures in the world. We've achieved a lot, we've come a very long way. And having not just te reo Maori celebrated, but tikanga Maori as well, is very important."

Carver Greg Houkamau works on a piece which represents the Maori legend of Tane seeking Nga Kete...
Carver Greg Houkamau works on a piece which represents the Maori legend of Tane seeking Nga Kete o te Wananga — the three baskets of knowledge. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO
Mr Houkamau joined the celebrations of Te Wiki o te Reo Maori, Maori Language Week, at the Invercargill City Library yesterday where he spent a couple of days working on a piece which represents the Maori legend of Tane seeking Nga Kete o te Wananga — the three baskets of knowledge.

The legend says while on his way to heaven to collect baskets, Tane has to pass through 12 realms while battling his brother Whiro along the way.

Mr Houkamau said the piece would take about four weeks to be ready and after completion, he would commission it to the library.

"It is really important it [carving] is retained in our culture, because it's who we are, how we came to be."

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