June 2009 Honours Thesis Paper Darren Tauroa
The Koru: The safe symbol in New Zealand design?
Completed in Partial Fulfilment for the Honours Degree of Computer Graphic Design
Whanganui School of Design June 2009
| Mihi Whakatau · Introduction
Korihi te manu Tākiri mai i te ata Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea Tihei Mauri Ora! E mihi ana ahau I te matua nui i te rangi Nana nei ngā mea katoa E te whanau E te whanau whanui E te iwi whanui E ngā iwi o te motu Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou Tena koutou i o koutou tini mate No reira, haere e ngā mate Haere ki te wa kainga Haere ki te kainga tuturu O to tatou Matua i te rangi Haere, haere, haere. Te hunga mate ki te hunga mate Te hunga ora ki te hunga ora E ngā Manuhiri Nau mai, haere mai, haere mai Tena koutou ki a koutou kua tae mai nei ki te tautoko te kaupapa o tenei wa
Ehara ahau i te tangata mohio ki te korero otira, e tika ana kia mihi atu kia mihi mai Waiho i te toipoto Kaua i te toiroa Nau te raurau Naku te raurau Ka ki te kete Ko Darren Tauroa-Hunia taku ingoa Ko Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whatua me Te Aupōuri ngā iwi. Kurahaupō te waka Hokianga te rohe Ko Wati Hunia tōku tino matua Kei te Whanganui ā Tara e noho ahau I whānau ahau i te rohe o Hokianga ki Pawarenga
No reira Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa Hui e, Taiki e!
| Tuhinga Whakarapopoto · Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to explore and investigate the nature of the Koru symbol in relation to design in New Zealand and has it become the “Safe Symbol” to use among New Zealand designers? Is there knowledge or resources available for people about the Koru and the meaning? The Koru has seen an increased usage within a non-traditional forum as its popularity has grown. The use of the Koru has developed a public perception of being a modern icon to represent all that is “kiwi”, “New Zealand” and of being “Māori”, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. Businesses wish to increase their popularity on the world stage by using the Koru within their branding. Why just the Koru? Why has it taken so long in the design world to create just one commonly used symbol that is generic in a field of so many? The Koru is a small, slight area or part of, a whole visual language with a huge base of knowledge for design in New Zealand. It is hoped that this thesis will aid designers in the creation of a bi-cultural design that reflects more of a genuine New Zealand identity. Or where the Koru is used, the designer will have an in-depth understanding of the symbol’s origin and be able to provide an oral narrative to their designs.
| Ngā Mihi · Acknowledgements
First and foremost, the following thesis would not have been possible without the help and support of Professor Hazel Gamec, who “never judges a book by its cover”. Kei te tino aroha ahau ki a toku poumatua. This work would also not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my tutors, colleagues and friends. • Vicky Campbell [MCGDes] - Kaitohutohu Matua • Riki Waitokia [MCGDes] - Ta Moko Tohunga/Kaitohutohu • Cecelia Kumeroa [MCGDes] – Kaitohutohu/Toi Māori • Arahi Hagger [MCGDes] - Korero O Mua Kaitohutohu Kiaora koutou katoa. I would like to thank ngā kaiako of Te Wananga o Aotearoa kei Whanganui I was attending while writing this thesis, for their teaching, and helping keep my wairua kaha. Tēnā koutou katoa. Many thanks to my thesis-writing advisor, Rachael Smith for her time and patience. Tēnā koe Kaitohutohu. I thank my close friends, on whose positive reinforcement and constant encouragement and love I have relied on throughout my time studying. Tēnā koutou ki te whānau, ngā hoa raua ko tāku whaiāpo. Lastly, I send many thanks and regards to all of those who supported me in any way during the completion of this thesis. Be brave, strong and steadfast. Tino kino te pai. Kia maia, kia aha, kia manawanui.
| Rarangi Upoko · Contents
List of Figures
| Upoko Tuatahi · Chapter One
Introduction 1.1.1 The Māori Koru
| Upoko Tuarua · Chapter Two 2.1
The Māori - A brief history 2.1.1 Ihoa (Io), The Supreme Being
2.1.2 The Great Migration
2.1.3 The Maori Explorers
2.1.7 Migration of the Seven Canoes
2.1.8 Intertribal Maori Settlers
European Explorers 2.2.1 Abel Tasman
2.2.2 James Cook (1728-79)
Early European Settlers
New Zealand Wars 1800's
2.5.1 The Word Māori
2.5.2 The Word Pakeha
2.6 The Language
2.1 The Koru
2.1.1 The Ponga frond
2.1.2 Translations and Definitions
2.1.3 What is in the name?
2.1.4 Links to Ta moko and Kowhaiwhai
2.1.5 Links to carving (Whakairo)
| Upoko Tuatoru · Chapter Three
3.1.1 Questionnaires & surveys
3.1.2 A website deconstruction and analysis
Traditional and contemporary
| Upoko Tuawha · Chapter Four
| Rarangi Pukapuka · Bibliography
| Papakupu · Glossary
| Tāpiritanga · Appendices
| Rarangi Whakaahua · List of Figures
Fig. 1- Air New Zealand corporate image,
(Coulson, 1998:23, Graphics: A New Zealand Approach) Fig. 2-Fern frond,
(Koru Theatre, n.d.) Fig. 3 - ‘Bulbed motif’.
(Neich, 1993, p. 39, Painted Histories) Fig. 4 - Art motifs of Araiteuru,
(Mead, 1986, p. 161, Te Toi Whakaaro) Fig. 5 - (Barrow, 1988, p. 44, An Illustrated Guide to Maori Art)
Fig. 6 - (Coulson, 1998, p. 65, Graphics: A New Zealand Approach)
Fig. 7 – Elaboration of Koru producing branch scroll designs,
(Neich, 1994, p. 40, Painted Histories) Fig. 8 - Positive composite Koru in white (a) and negative (b),
(Neich, 1994, p. 41, Painted Histories) Fig. 9 - The 29 Kowhaiwhai designs.
(Neich, 1994, p. 30, Painted Histories)
Fig. 10 - Moko Kauwae: Female chin tattoo.
(Simmons, 1986:152, Ta Moko - The Art of Maori Tattoo) Fig. 11 - Male moko (large) and female (inset), (Simmons, 1986, p. 86, Ta Moko - The Art of Maori Tattoo)
Fig. 12 - Tattoo patterns from facial areas of individual variations,
(Neich, 1994, p. 75, Painted Histories) Fig. 13 - Rei Pounamu Pendant.
(Mead, 1986, p. 156, Te Toi Whakairo) Fig. 14 - Fortrose Necklace, Southland
(Mead, 1986, p. 157, Te Toi Whakairo) Fig. 15 - Patetonga Lintel from Hauraki
(Howe, K.R. 2006, Vaka moana - Voyages of the ancestors) Fig. 16 - Te Hau-ki Turanga
(Mead, 1986, p. 77) Fig. 17 - Haumi (canoe bow cover)
(Brown, 2005, p. 42, MÄ ori arts of the gods) Fig. 18 - Cover illustration for the School Journal, Part 3, 1960.
(Taylor, 1960) Fig. 19 - Churchward MÄ ori typeface
Museum of New Zealand (n.d.) Fig. 20 - Gray & Co.
Beth Anne Gray J. (n.d.) Fig. 21 - Koru Travel logo
Koru travel Ltd (2008) Fig. 22 - Morph from fern fond to Koru symbol: left to right.
Koru Medical (n.d.) 46 Dekker, G., & Dekker- Groeneveld, I. (1999) Koru Websites Fig. 24 - Klaske pounamu site
Koru Websites, (n.d.) Klaske buys greenstone
Fig. 25 - Navigation buttons
Dekker, G., & Dekker- Groeneveld, I. (1999) Koru Websites Fig. 26 - Contact page
Koru Websites, (n.d.) Klaske buys greenstone Fig. 27 â€“ Puhoro Peha
Kipa, (n.d.) Rangi Kipa
Fig. 28 - Back piece
Taylor, (2008) Moko Ink
Fig. 29 â€“ Hokioi
Spirit Wrestler Gallery (2009) Karanga: The Calling
Fig. 30 - Stink Pots Spirit Wrestler Gallery (2009) Pangurunguru: Storm Petrel
| Upoko Tuatahi · Chapter One
1.1 · Introduction 1.1.1 · The Māori Koru What is a Koru? Many have translated the definition. Shand (2002) describes it as a curvilinear element punctuated with a circular stoppage. The Koru has also been described in Roger Neich’s Painted Histories as a 'curving stalk with a bulb at one end' (Phillipps, 1938) and a ‘bulbed motif’ in carving and scroll painting'. (Williams, 1957, p. 147) Another analysis by H.P. Buck (1949, p. 319) goes on to surmise: The impression conveyed by the designs is that the artists had been influenced by fern fronds, which had been straightened out, the smaller branched scrolls representing the opened pinnae of the leaf, which were joined on conventionally wherever it was best to fill in unoccupied spaces in the field. In conventional treatment, it was the midribs and the end nobs that had been selected for the motif and the leaf details were disregarded. (as cited in Neich, 1994, p. 39) The word ‘Koru’ is the Māori name given to the new unfurling fern frond and symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. It is an integral symbol in Māori carving and tattoos. The Koru has been with the Māori many years before the European arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
The Koru has seen an increased usage within a non-traditional forum as its popularity has grown. Are designers using the Koru because they have seen and encountered it during their childhood, if they grew up in New Zealand? Maybe they are familiar with it as it is abundant in our environment, and because there is no ‘solid’ narrative attached to its use in design.
The use of the Koru has developed a public perception of being a modern icon to represent all that is "Kiwi”, "New Zealand" and of being "Maori", the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.
Businesses wish to increase their popularity on the world stage by using the Koru within their branding. The Koru's iconic features as mentioned above are to be seen in all walks of modern day living and life. The most well known commercially featured is that of Air New Zealand's insignia (see Fig. 2), arriving on the tail of a DC-10 back in 1973 (Cranston, 2006).
Fig. 1- Air New Zealand corporate image, (Coulson, 1998, p. 23)
The New Zealand government appears to have cultural sensitivity to its indigenous peoples by providing a translation from the English language to the Māori giving the notion that we are truly a bilingual nation. Various government departments will adorn their brand with Māori motifs, the Koru being the most popular. As a past employee of The Department of Internal Affairs (Te Tari Taiwhenua) I was often instructed to design a Maori ‘motif’ for circulated newsletters and other forms of social stationary. Māori taonga (sacred object) and art are also prevalent in souvenir shops where tourists rush in to buy a probably plastic, factory-made ‘piece of New
Zealand’ to take home. Products that may have been manufactured overseas are often passed off as being “NZ Made” (Bailey, 2008, p. 19). Māori art is enjoying great achievements in fashion houses in Italy, adorning the faces of a model as painted ‘tā moko’ (Māori tattoo), and woven into the model's costuming. It can be seen these days in top selling magazines with pictures of pop stars and athletes wearing Māori kirituhi (skin art) or some sort of tattoo (Waitokia, 2003). Musician Ben Harper received a tattoo or tā moko on his back, which was done by Māori tattoo artist, Gordon Toi Hatfield. Te Rangitu Netana, another Māori tattooist, also tattoos a tā moko on singer Robbie Williams’s left shoulder. This stirred up controversy and provoked complaints from Māori tribes (iwi) who questioned the appropriateness of non-Māori wearing a sacred pattern and whether the design was "taken" from an iwi (100% Pure New Zealand, n.d.). In the publication, Kiwa: Pacific Connections – Māori Art from Aotearoa (2003), the art piece titled “You too can be a Māori” by Robert Jahnke goes on to talk about the globalisation of cultural icons. “The juxtaposition of British pop star Robbie Williams, Māori leader Piri Sciascia and boxer Mike Tyson in the piece speaks volumes about the globalisation of moko (Māori tattoo) as an icon of trans-global culture” (Kiwa, 2003, p. 57). Both Hatfield and Netana believe that only Māori are to perform this style of tattooing, and that although more and more non-Māori are wearing tā moko, Māori are still in control of it. They also claim that those who are non-Māori and want a tā moko, so not just for the beauty or aesthetic of the tattoo, but because they are searching for something spiritual. (Kassem, 2003)
Māori art has become global, and people are choosing to go to a local tattooist these days to adorn their skin with some kind of tribal art or Māori style design. If non-Māori chooses to get a tā moko, then why not let them get it done by a person of Māori origin who understands the tikanga (customary protocols) behind it. Many tā moko practitioners understand that purpose of making the knowledge available so that people can understand the meaning behind Māori and their art. The questions posed in this thesis are, do people who use the Koru understand what it means and the value it holds with Māori? Is there knowledge or information available about the Koru and its meaning? Are designers in New Zealand using the Koru as a "safe" symbol because they have grown up with it and therefore are more familiar with it? Why do we have prolific use of the Koru where there is a lack of in-depth knowledge or resources? Is this a reflection of ‘tokenism’ in the design industry?
Bailey (2008) and Puketapu (2002) discuss the appropriate or inappropriate use and intellectual property rights of Māori art and taonga (sacred object). However, the purpose of this paper is to introduce a resource for users of the Koru through understanding its cultural history and significance to Māori. This will provide a bridge for designers or mark makers to move forward pass cultural barriers into the world of the Māori. This paper will act as a vehicle for a better understanding of the tikanga (customary protocols), whakatauki (proverbs), the whakapapa (genealogy) and kaupapa (strategy) and those conditions that make the beliefs and understandings of Māori. An educational resource will enable designers to provide an oral narrative to their symbol or motif when challenged. Sometimes designers choose not to use Māori art in fear of disrespecting Māori because they lack the knowledge.
The generalized and widely utilized Koru form is the ‘safe’ icon associated with the Māori identity by the design industry. But the question remains, why just the Koru? Has it taken so many years to infiltrate the Pākehā consciousness in the design environment to generate just one acceptable symbol in a field of so many? (C. Kumeroa, personal communication, 3 June, 2009)
The Koru is a small, slight area or part of, a whole visual language with a huge base of knowledge for design in Aotearoa (New Zealand). There are designs with similarities to the Koru found in other indigenous and European cultures but for the purpose of this thesis I have chosen to focus on it’s evolution as an icon and element of Māori/New Zealand culture in the context of the New Zealand environment. It is hoped that this thesis will aid designers in the creation of inter-cultural design that reflects more of an authentic New Zealand identity. Or where the Koru is used, the designer will have an in-depth understanding of the symbol’s origin. This will help designers become more confident.
| Upoko Tuarua · Chapter Two 2.1 · The Māori - A brief history. 2.1.1 · Ihoa (Io), The Supreme Being. In the beginning, the supreme god, ‘Ihoa’ existed in the realm of Te Korekore, (the nothingness) alone in his passive state as Ihoa-Matamoe (Ihoa of the slumbering countenance), Ihoa-Mata-Ane (Ihoa of the calm and tranquil countenance) and Ihoa-Kore-TeWhiwhia (Ihoa the unchanging and unadulterated in whom there is no confusion and inconsistency). Nothing pre-existed before Ihoa, for he was parentless (as Ihoa-Matua-Kore), he was first parent (as Ihoa-Matua), the precursor to all beings (as Ihoa-Mau), the first cause (as Ihoa-Pukenga), the foundation of all things (as Ihoa-Taketake). (A. Hagger, 2008) 2.1.2 · The Great Migration. Hawaiki (Ha-wai-ki) literally translated as ‘Filled with Breath Water’, the ancient and mythological homeland of the Māori people. From the distant homelands of Māori, Hawaikinui, Hawaiki-roa and Hawaiki-pamamao, Māori Tupuna (ancestors) fought and travelled over unknown seas on their journey to Aotearoa (New Zealand). They navigated their way using migrating patterns of the birds, the stars and sun, and tidal currents (This also being referred to as the great fleet or migration). The first to discover Aotearoa (usually translated as ‘land of the long white cloud’ and named by Hine-i-te-aparangi. Kupe’s wife) and according to popular tradition, it was the Polynesian navigator Kupe from Ra’iatea (west of Tahiti). (Mead, 1999) 2.1.3 · The Maori Explorers. Maui, one of the great explorers plays a role in Māori mythology, which goes back 1000 years. Maui is believed to be one of the first Māori settlers to arrive well before the great migration to Aotearoa (New Zealand). The mythology describes Maui being a demi-god (half God and
half man), who fished up the North Island, which has the name ‘Te Ika a Maui’, or the fish of Maui. He is also attributed to the stealing of fire from the spirit world for mankind, and ensnaring the sun to lengthen the day. Maui fashioned a hook with a magic jawbone that belonged to his great ancestor Murirangi Whenua. Maui smeared the jawbone with blood drawn from his nose for bait and pulled up the North Island, the hook became Hawkes Bay, and his Waka or canoe became the South Island. (Royal, 2008) 2.1.4 · Kupe. The mythical Polynesian navigator Kupe, was one of the first Polynesian ancestors to arrive here in Aotearoa from Hawaiki on his voyage and is credited with the discovery of New Zealand around 950 AD, naming his discovery Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud). His wife accompanied him on the long voyage across ‘Te Moana Nui A Kiwa’ (the Pacific Ocean), where Kupe landed on Te Ika A Maui (the fish of Maui). Kupe's last act before his departure was to order his mokai (servant), Powhengu to stay and care for the land. The great harbour was named Te Hokianga a Kupe to mark the great return voyage to where Kupe sailed from Aotearoa never to be seen. Other Māori historians suggest that Kupe was the one who opened the door to the spirit world at Te Renga Wairua for Māori to journey back to Hawaiki after the death of the body. The canoe builder, Toto built Kupe’s canoe for his long voyages over Te Moana Nui A Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean), to Aotearoa (New Zealand). However, Toto presented each of his daughters a canoe. The tree used was cut down from the banks of the Waiharakeke River at Rangatira. The tree was split and hewed into two canoe’s one given to Kuramarotini that was named Matawhaorua, the other given to Rongorongo and was named Aotea, which came in the migration (Pene K, 1990:22)
2.1.5 · Toi. Another great Māori navigator who journeyed to New Zealand after the great explorer Kupe was Toi, who made the journey in search of his missing grandson. He settled at Whakatane, where he built a Pā (stockaded village). Toi’s Pā site is still visible today. 2.1.6 · Paikea. Paikea was a navigator who came to Aotearoa on the back of a whale. One myth suggests that Paikea himself was the whale. While this may seem farfetched, it should be remembered that this legendary journey replicates exactly, the annual migration of the whales from the Pacific Ocean to the breeding and feeding grounds of Aotearoa. (Pene K, 1990:24) 2.1.7 · Migration of the Seven Canoes. The first migration to Aotearoa by Māori descendents arrived here by waka (canoe), with their arrival between 600 and 800 AD. This Oral history, contained in traditional waiata (songs) and stories, has always maintained that settlement occurred earlier than 1350. Most of the canoes which brought Māori to the shores of Aotearoa made landfall in the calm waters of the Bay of the East Coast dispersing to its final destinations on the east and west coasts of both islands. Several of the fleet canoes landed in the calm waters of the bay of Whangaparaoa close to the East Cape. Te Arawa canoe: After a short rest at Whangaparaoa, Te Arawa explored the coast as it travelled north, exploring and naming these places staking their claim to the land they found. The final destination of Te Arawa was Maketu. Tainui canoe: Arrived at Whangaparaoa, was hauled ashore for repairs. The Tainui explored northwards and stopped at Ahuahu near Whitianga, then arriving in the Waitemata, naming places around Waitemata Harbour. Tainui was dragged across the isthmus from the Tamaki River to the Manuka Harbour. The final destination was Kawhia, where Tainui lies buried between her two guardian limestone pillars Puna and Hane.
Mataatua canoe: Arrived in Moana a Toi (Bay of Plenty) at Whakatane. Some of Mataatua's descendents stayed on at Whakatane while the rest took Mataatua and sailed north-making landfall at Takou, where Mataatua lies on the bed of the river. Aotea canoe: Arrived at Rangitahua (Raoul Island in the Kermadecs) for major repairs. Aotea landed at Great Barrier Island, then travelled north round the tip of Northern Peninsula down the West Coast to Aotea Harbour. The descendants disembarked and walked to Whenuakura naming places as they travelled. The Ariki of Aotea was Turi; Toto who gave and named it for his daughter Rongorongo made the canoe. Aotea now lies on a reef, which nestles on the seabed at the entrance to the Aotea Harbour. Tokomaru canoe: First touched on the shores of Aotearoa at Whangara Mai Tawhiti, then cruised south and into 'Raukawa Moana' (Cook Strait) up the West Coast to Tongaporutu. Years later, a local farmer from Tongaporutu found the anchor stone of Tokomaru and placed it the New Plymouth Museum. Kurahaupo canoe: Anchored at Rangitahua in the Kermadec Islands. When the Kurahaupo was launched, it foundered on reefs and had to stay at Rangitahua for repairs. The Descendents came to Aotearoa aboard the Aotea. The Kurahaupo, arrived to Aotearoa at Parengarenga, and later made another landfall at Nukutaurua on the Mahia Peninsula. Takitimu canoe: Arrived in Aotearoa on the West Coast at Awanui, the lower end of Ninety Mile Beach, then called into the Hokianga Harbour, later sailing down the East Coast to Tauranga, then approaching the Turanganui River, they saw a hill of their homeland on which the Takitimu had taken shape. They named the hill Titirangi in due course Takitimu arrived at Nukutaurua, the Mahia Peninsula. (Pene K, 1990:24) 2.1.8 · Intertribal Māori Settlers In the early days, Māori people had their own laws, these systems were the original practices used by the people. This knowledge was based around their kawa (ceremony), tikanga (customary protocols) and kaupapa (strategy), practiced by their tupuna (ancestors). When
corruption and unwholesome practices entered the whanau (family), hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe), this resulted in inter-tribal jealousy and killing. The people still lived happily enough, secure in the knowledge that they were their own masters in their own world, with their own history of cultural tradition. Then along came the European explorers, who bought the Missionaries, followed by settlers seeking to acquire land for farming and to set up businesses of various kinds. The arrival of the Government operating first from Australia, then later establishing itself in New Zealand changed the way Māori lived enforcing foreign laws and living styles outside the Māori protocol. It wasn’t long before Māori society suffered the full-scale impact of colonization and change brought about by the Missionaries who introduced their new belief systems by introducing Christianity. (Akoranga, A, 1997: 17-18). 2.2 · European Explorers. 2.2.1 · Abel Tasman. The first European explorers to visit the South Pacific were looking for a great land in the South. Abel Tasman, a Dutch captain was the first European to sight New Zealand without setting foot on land. Abel Tasman fixed the geographic position of the West Coast of New Zealand and left his name firmly marked on the map of this region. Abel Tasman’s boat was the Heemskerck, a 120 tonne war ship explore the Southern Hemisphere. 2.2.2 · James Cook (1728-79). Captain James Cook the European explorer is the greatest figure among pacific explorers. In 1768 Cook was given the command of the Endeavour, with the rank of lieutenant and assigned to make observation in the South Pacific. James Cook set out to explore the seas of the south and a year later, he came in sight of the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand on 7th October, 1769. Cooks first encounter with Māori was difficult, but eventually he and his crew, aided by a paramount chief Tupaia from the island of Raiatea, managed close contact with
groups of Māori. During the next six months, he travelled both the North and South Island. Captain James Cook made two other visits to New Zealand. Unfortunately on his third journey, he was killed by the natives in Kealakekua Bay on the "Big Island" of Hawaii. The ship in which James Cook re-discovered New Zealand in 1769 was a vessel called the Endeavour. (Pene K, 1990) 2.3 · Early European Settlers. The first European traders, like the explorers, were not interested in living permanently in New Zealand. They wanted to make profits from the sale of natural resources like flax, timber, sealskins and whale oil. These products they gathered from land fetched good prices in Europe. The Pākehā traders and settlers, for the most part, had little respect for Māori and their land. Their true intentions became obvious, greed for the acquisition of more land for settlement, sometimes resorting to unconventional methods. The Government aided in the land acquisition process by establishing the Māori Land Court (The Court was originally established as the Native Land Court under the Native Land Act 1865. It has been called the Māori Land Court since 1954), a European system for the tenure of land title. The Court system imposed on Māori, completely disregarded Rangatira (chieftain class) status in land ownership, which eventuated in individualisation of land title, which resulted in loss to tribes of their ancestral lands. (Henderson J, 1963:3) 2.4 · New Zealand Wars 1800s. Between 1860 and 1870 war broke out between the Māori and the European. This was the direct result of Pākehā settler’s greed for land. This was especially true where settlers wanted the fertile lands of Waikato and Taranaki. For the Māori people the land was a gift from 'Io' (supreme being). To the settlers land meant new farms and profit. The Māori valued the land and the bush for its birds, berries and other
types of food along with the kai moana (seafood) they collected from the sea. The settlers wanted to cut down and burn the bush to sow seeds for farming. The Māori were opposed to selling their land to the new settlers, but more European settlers came and so wanted more land. The main events for warfare over the land were in Waikato, Riro Whenua atu Riro Whenua mai. This land was taken, and confiscated in an unjust manner, as well as Waitara, the battle of Gate Pā and other land that was sought after in the Taranaki area. There were many other battles over the country for land but these were the main historical battles recorded. Māori are spiritually connected to their ancestral lands. This can be seen by the practise of burying the afterbirth, which is also known as whenua, (the same Māori word used for land) in the soil of tribal lands. The pito (navel) is also buried connecting the newborn child with their tupuna (ancestors). During the fighting in 1863-64, the Māori earned a reputation among the British soldiers as being among the most formidable enemies they had ever fought. The war over land soon ended in the late 1870s, but even to this day, the Māori continue to fight for the land that was taken from them unjustly, through more peaceful methods other than warfare. At the very time that prospects for Māori survival seemed unlikely, the seeds for racial and cultural recovery were already sown. The population declined rapidly especially due to no immunity to the diseases that were brought to Aotearoa by the European. (Pene K 1990; Akoranga, A; 1997:19-20) 2.5 · Māori. If you ask a New Zealander today to describe what ‘Māori’ is, you will probably end up with many different interpretations describing the word or the name Māori. These explanations come in the form of oral history, written history sourced from a variety of old books, some
written by the early settlers and their contact with the Māori of that period giving their renditions and interpretation of the early the native people. 2.5.1 · The Word Māori. Māori originally meant "the local people", or "the original people". A word which signified "local" or "original" - as opposed to the new arrivals - white European settlers - the "pākehā". With the arrival of European settlers, the word Māori gradually became an adjective for the "Māori people". This change took place before 1815. Tangata Whenua signifies "the local people", "the local people of the land", "and the local people of the ancestral land. Tangata signifies ‘people’ or "human being" and Whenua signifies "land" or "ancestral land" (Bateman, 2005). In the very early times, the Māori people referred to each other according to tribe or 'hapu' (sub-tribe/family), never according to race. Perhaps, because they never knew of other races of people. If that person was asked, “to what people do they belong?” he, or she would reply “Ngati Tuwharetoa", meaning the people or descendants, of Tu Wharetoa, if from the Lake Taupo area, or Ngati Kahungunu”, meaning the people or descendants of Kahungunu if from the Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa region, and so on. When the ancient Māori people talked about people or beings, they knew of only two kinds or people – 'tangata wairua' (spiritual beings) and 'tangata Māori' (human beings). So when the early European settlers came to Aotearoa and learnt to communicate with the Māori, when they asked the question, “What kind, or what race of people are you?” the answer they got was Māori, or Tangata Māori. In other words, the old people were telling the new settlers that they were “human beings” as opposed to spiritual beings. From that time to now, our people have been called Māori, or the Māori Race. (Akoranga, A; 1997:45) 2.5.2 · The Word Pākehā. Many New Zealand Europeans take exception to being called Pākehā, and say it is derogatory insulting and racists to them. Most New Zealanders do not understand the true meaning of
this word or name, ‘Pākehā’. We as a nation must understand that the word or name Pākehā is rather significant and must be logically understood and accepted. In the old days, the Māori people spoke of a race “Fairy Folk” fair-haired, fair skinned people who lived in the mountains and were regarded as supernatural beings who were called Patupaiarehe. They described them as Uru Kehu, “Uru” meaning head, or hair and “Kehu” meaning reddish or fair, thus meaning people with reddish hair with skin fairer than Māori. From time to time children of very fair complexion, with fair hair, and blue or grey eyes (Albino) were born among Māori and were called Uru Kehu. With the arrival of the early Europeans who settled here, the Māori people called them Uru Kehu, eventually this name was shortened to kehā, describing them as fair or of whitish complexion. Many years later the name lost it’s meaning describing a people of fair, or whitish skinned race. It has never been disputed that the word Kehā was used in a manner, which expressed dislike, or derision, so perhaps the Māori of old had good reasons to express the word in that way. When the Missionaries arrived, the Maori people were taken under the wing of the Catholic Church. And so Māori began to understand the European and their ways and mannerisms better. Missionaries befriended Māori and converted them to Christianity. They became very close, and greatly loved the Priests, who lived with the Māori people, so Māori began to address the priest as Te Pā Kehā meaning, the White Father. So therefore, the name Pākehā was born from out of the respect from the Māori people calling the Priest Pākehā. On the contrary, our ancestors coined with great respect, and with no small amount of endearment, the word Pākehā. (Akoranga, A; 1997:46) In light of the above, Māori have been able to trace their lineage through 'whakapapa' (genealogy). Individual tribes have their own identity, its law, which is based on its founding
teachings. This form of knowledge is known today as kawa (ceremony), tikanga (customary protocols) and kaupapa (strategy). Maori "knowledge” has been preserved and practiced through medium of waiata (songs), carvings, korero (word of mouth) and poropiti (prophet). They were given insight to the past and visions for the future. Legends of their homeland called Hawaiki were staunchly embraced and spoken about. Tribal stories were handed down through whakapapa (geneology) tell Māori after the death of body our spirits journey back to Hawaiki; to the homeland of the spirits world. (Pene K: 1990) Māori were fully enriched with tradition, and were able to embrace a system of understanding. This was defined to the Tohunga (chosen expert) as 'mana' (power) or mauri (the life force) from whence Māori priesthood of the 'whare wānanga (house of sacred learning) was being utilized. Understanding of the stars and ocean currents is passed down. The tukutuku (ornamental lattice-work) panel clearly speaks for itself particularly when being observed in weaving which adorns the walls of carved embellished whare (house). Numerous tukutuku panels descend from star charts carried by ancient navigators. Māori practiced the laws of 'Io' (God). Chants and rituals were performed, every mihi (greeting), every whaikōrero (formal speech) on the marae (courtyard), the gathering of the people, recall these ancient teachings. Māori people had their own version of creation. They believed they were part of this life force.
The role of nature in Māori Art is paramount. James Cowan, author, writes about the inspiration of nature on Maori artists: Superficial observation in the past has dwelt on the grotesque and barbaric state of Maori art to the exclusion of the decorative designs, which reflect the height of Maori genius. The forms of trees and flower, of birds and cloud and mountain, the story of the tribes, the soul and romance of native life, are expressed in these designs, evolved during many centuries of life in a country of great natural beauty. It would indeed have been strange had the Maori not absorbed the spirit of this beauty and interpreted it as best he could in the materials at his hand. James Cowan - Te Ao Hou: No.30:1960 (Retrieved 3 June 2009) Understanding why Māori are close to nature is no great mystery. Māori mihi (formal greeting) to tree's (Tāne Mahuta, who is the 'Atua' or god of the forest) and the animals of the forest (Ngā kararehe), to the sea (Tangaroa, the god of the sea), the sky (Rangi-nui, the sky father), and to the earth (Papa-tū-ā-nuku, the earth mother), with all due respect given to Io (the supreme being), who blessed 'tangata te whenua' with the role of kaitiaki o ngā taonga katoa (guardians of creation). The ancient schools of learning (whare wananga) taught that our ancestors were formed from a combination of dust, earth and the mist, which rose from it, filled with the breath of God. This was defined as the 'ha' (the breath of life). Through the nostrils our ancestor were given Life. Thus to Māori they retain this most 'tapu' (sacred) act, which continues to be performed. This is known as the 'hongi', (pressing together of noses) a sign that Māori had their relationship with Io, the Father, the Giver of life. Māori legends teach of the mighty kaitiaki (guardian) with powers of control over the elements, the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky. (Pene K, 1990:19) 2.6 · The Language. Long before the European arrived in New Zealand, the Māori language was oral, meaning no written form existed (although there was a visual language). Then when the early missionaries
came and who were keen for the Māori scriptures to be in a written format of some kind, went on to develop a system of five vowels and 10 consonants. Linguistically, the system seemed very good, except for one major flaw was its inability to mark the vowel length (as Māori has short and long vowels), and therefore early writings in the language did not distinguish vowel length. Vowel length is phonemic in the Māori language, which means vowels are either pronounced with a short or long sound. Words in Māori that have the long or short sounding vowel which are pronounced incorrectly because the vowels are or aren't lengthened can alter the meanings of the words with dramatic consequences. Only when using macrons on written Māori can the correct vowel sound and pronunciation be learnt. The keywords of Williams's Dictionary For Māori Language in its fifth edition, published in 1917 first showed the macron or lengthened vowel, which was a short line or bar over the vowel signifying a long length and an absence of the bar signifying a short length. (Ministry of Education, n.d.) 2.7 · The Koru 2.7.1 · The Ponga frond The Koru is one of the most familiar and widely used Māori icon or art symbol. Many New Zealanders have a common understanding that the ponga fern frond, one of the many native ferns, is where the inspiration for the Koru is derived from. The base of the Koru represents the stalk of a baby fern frond and the bulb of the Koru is the unfurled knob of the ponga (silver tree fern) frond.
Figure 2 - The Fern frond Koru Theatre (n.d.) The ponga was reputed to have once lived by the sea but was forced to the forests for safety from Tawhaki, one of the Māori gods as according to Murdoch Riley’s Māori healing and herbal (Puketapu, 2002). The ponga frond was known to have health and healing properties such as external medicinal remedies for ailments had antiseptic qualities and used for treating wounds. Parts of the ponga were also used for internal remedies to help with diabetes and act as a dietary supplement (Riley, 1994: 357) 2.7.2 · Translations & Definitions A popular definition of the word 'Koru' is a 'spiral with a bulb on the end. Three common English translations for the Koru are coil, loop and folded. H.W.Ngata's English - Māori Dictionary goes on to state that the word 'loop' is translated to mean 'Kono', 'Koromeke' and of course, 'Koru'. 'Kono' to mean a loop in regards to tying a knot, 'Koromere', a loop in terms of corner or loop in the road. It is also said that the Koru is not noted to have a specific translation other than meaning 'loop'.
The Internet based English-Māori Word Translator states that 'coil' means koru, pōkai and whiri. However H.W.Ngata does go on to say that 'coil' does not mean 'Koru' but in fact Ngata refers to 'coil' as a 'pookai' or a 'coil of wire', which is similar to the definition in the EnglishMāori Word Translator. The Concise Māori Dictionary and the Revised Dictionary of Modern Māori also define that the 'Koru' does not mean coil but instead it means folded, loop, dented, shrub and pratia physalides (Karetu, 1985:21; Ryan, 1984:21). In the Dictionary of Maori Language the Koru is said to mean: a) Folded, coiled, looped and; b) A bulbed motif in carving and scroll painting. The first meaning is commonly cited in sources excluding 'coiled'; however, the latter refers to it being a 'bulbed motif'. Common English names from sources cited are a pattern that is 'folded' or 'looped'. (Williams, 1997:147)
Fig. 3 - ‘Bulbed motif’. (Neich, 1993, p. 39, Painted Histories) Another definition in The Reed Dictionary of Modern Māori calls it a 'spiral pattern'. (Reed, 1995, p. 127). These interpretations do not provide a clear explanation of what the Koru is. This could be that the Koru and its name cannot be separated and because this inability to separate such things is based on Māori tikanga (Puketapu, 2002).
The book An Illustrated Guide to Māori Art (Barrow, 1988:43) says that the Koru is 'basically a stalk with a bulb at one end’, which also supports the statement that a Koru is 'a curved stalk with a round bulb at one end' (McLintock, 1994:414).
Fig. 4 - Art motifs of Araiteuru, (Mead, 1986, p. 161, Te Toi Whakaaro) The image in Fig. 3.b shows the Koru in its natural form. Evidence can be seen of the bulb sitting slightly curved in at the base from where the curved stalk starts (Puketapu, 2002). The aesthetic difference is obvious when comparing images Fig. 3.b and Fig. 3.c. Once it has started to curve in to the point it is spiralling, or has taken on more than a single rotation, then it has evolved into a 'spiral' and is no longer a 'pure Koru'. In the book An Illustrated Guide To Māori Art, Terrence Barrow states that there are three levels to the 'Koru'. The single, the double and the complex forms (refer to Fig. 4).
Fig. 5 - (Barrow, 1988, p. 44, An Illustrated Guide to Maori Art)
These are also referenced as the 'simple line', the 'blocked out' and the 'silhouette' rendered forms. Where simple line is a basic outline, the blocked out uses the positive and negative spaces and the silhouette which is the blocked out form in the negative. (Puketapu, 2002). In Graphics: A New Zealand Approach, author Ken Coulson (1998) talks about the Koru in a more technical sense and shows an accurate mathematical drawing (Fig. 5) of the Koru, using tangents, points and construction (Coulson, 1998, p. 65).
Fig. 6 - (Coulson, 1998, p. 65, Graphics: A New Zealand Approach)
Another translation from a Western theorist’s point of view is the Koru being referred to as a 'meme' in relation to memetics, defining the Koru and spiral symbol, and its associated meanings (the cycle of life, spiritual growth and nurturing, etc.) as a repetitive process of copying or ‘memeplex’. (Roberson, 2007)
2.7.3 · What is in the name? The word Koru is Māori. It is Māori in name and meaning (Puketapu, 2002) and is the base element of painted scroll patterns commonly used on meeting house rafters (kōwhaiwhai). A
strong Māori view of the Koru is its link to the New Zealand fern representing unfolding plant growth (Buck, 1949:319). Tovey (1961, p. 43) takes one final step further in linking the Koru with the unfolding fern by applying the name 'pitau' where the primary meaning of the word is 'young succulent shoot' of a plant, especially circinate frond of a fern (Williams 1957, p. 284). The Koru is also referred to in Māori carving where the word 'pitau' has the meaning of 'perforated spiral carving' (Neich 1994, p. 40). The Koru, in some instances, ‘symbolizes the pito to represent the concept of new growth’. (Kumeroa, personal communication, 3 June 2009). The Koru is the base design of the traditional kowhaiwhai patterns used by Māori. Many iwi or Māori tribes use it on their buildings. Māori woodcarving uses various forms of the spiral with the base being the Koru, and Philipps (1938) states in his early analysis how the Koru design carved in outline may have given rise to the various forms of spiral found in Māori carving. Philips (1960, pp. 14-15) also goes on to say that in a later study with the kowhaiwhai how the simple Koru can be elaborated to the branch scrolls mentioned by Buck (1949).
Fig. 7 – Elaboration of Koru producing branch scroll designs, (Neich, 1994, p. 40, Painted Histories)
Philips also states how motifs of kowhaiwhai either as a white positive form or a negative shape with the outline of the positive in black or red can produce most of the other more complex kowhaiwhai forms (Neich, 1994, pp. 40-41).
Fig. 8 - Positive composite Koru in white (a) and negative (b), (Neich, 1994, p. 41, Painted Histories)
2.7.4 Âˇ Links to Ta moko and Kowhaiwhai The Koru element is important in the formation of kowhaiwhai patterns. The fact that kowhaiwhai is used to depict tribal lineage on the house ridgepole and rafters reveals that, although considered to be of lesser importance to woodcarving and tattooing, kowhaiwhai never-the-less carries with it connotations and associations of "authority by descent (genealogical mana)â€?. (Auckland Museum, 1998)
n Fig. 9 - The 29 Kowhaiwhai designs. (Neich, 1994, p. 30, Painted Histories) The Koru (pitau) and the Kape or cresent shaped element are considered as the â€˜full list of basic kowhaiwhai motifsâ€™ and when used in various combinations, are able of producing all the kowhaiwhai patterns (see Fig. 9) by Williams (1987).
Some of the patterns represented use combinations of Koru elements. Neich writes about the influence of the natural environment on Måori kowhaiwhai designs: For most of these design names, the resemblance lies in a perceived similarity between a prominent feature of the plant or animal, such as leaf or body outline, curving red flowers, or birds beak, and one repeating feature of the kowhaiwhai design. (Neich, 1994, p. 33) In Fig. 9 numbers 3, 25 and 29 are versions of the mangopare (hammerhead shark) design that is an important icon in Māori history. The mangaopare accompanied the great waka migration and so is seen as a symbol of perseverance. It is used frequently in tā-moko design, in reference to its symbolism. It is comprised of two Koru and a manawa (heart) line. Numbers 7, 8 and 9, the kowhai ngutukaka also utilises the Koru in the overall design. The representation given in Neich (p.33) is the ‘scarlet clianthus, a drooping shrub with curved brilliant red flowers and is also known as ‘the red kowhai, parrot’s bill or kaka’s beak’. The symbolism is associated with communication. (M. Bennett, personal communication. June 7, 2009) In number 10 is the patiki design; derived from the tukutuku pattern of the same name that represents flat fish or flounder. It is used to symbolise abundance and hospitality. (M. Bennett, personal communication. June 7, 2009) The pattern in this instance is composed of Koru and the patiki is seen as the diamond shape formed by the two zig-zagging central lines. The development of the designs listed shows the importance of the Koru. The curvilinear style is evident, but also later developments that were generally accepted are triangles or zig-zag patterns derived from the taniko (patterned textile borders). Williams (1897, p. 119) goes on to write: The ancient tohunga without a doubt abhorred the straight line when considering ornament. With the exception of No.24, all the patterns figured here originally
consisted solely of curves. The introduction of straight cross-lines and midribs is a modern invention. For instance, the mango pare No.3 was originally drawn, but is now almost invariably represented as in No.29. (Neich, 1994, p. 41)
Another evolution of the Koru form can be found within the ‘Pitau a Manaia’ kowhaiwhai design (figure 9.1), created in the East Coast meeting-houses around the 1870s in the development of the Māori figurative painting tradition (Neich, 1994). The Te Pitau a Manaia is related to the manaia (stylised figure) of the woodcarving tradition (Neich, 1994, p. 34) but is a complex painted version. The design employs a sophisticated use of the Koru form. Elements of the Koru are also used in male and female Maori facial tattoo in certain areas of the face. The moko kauwae or the female chin tattoo (figure 9) was usually done only on the chin area with interlocking Koru forms, whereas the male tattoo (figure 10) had a more complicated arrangement of spirals and curved lines and also elements of the Koru done over the face where certain areas related to the person’s whakapapa and place or status within the iwi they belonged to. Tā moko is important to the personal identity whereas woodcarving is used in representation of tribal identity. Some of the ways the Koru is used in tā moko (tattoo) can be seen in figure 10 and figure 11. The sections of the male moko show the wearer’s status. Ngunga (on the forehead), indicates the lineage of the person within the tribe by a combination of lines and design elements, for instance: lines shown on the temple is described as ‘uma’ and represents the father and mother’s lineage. The use of the Koru in particular section of the face has different meanings for each wearer. Further research into tā-moko will give a better understanding of the significance of the Koru, but in terms of this thesis, it is referenced to show the importance of Koru to the Māori identity.
Fig. 10 - Moko Kauwae: Female chin tattoo. (Simmons, 1986:152, Ta Moko - The Art of Maori Tattoo)
Fig. 11 - Male moko (large) and female (inset), (Simmons, 1986, p. 86, Ta Moko - The Art of Maori Tattoo)
MÄ ori carvers Piri Poutapu and Pine Taiapa (King 1975:438), believed in a definite relationship between facial tattoo and kowhaiwhai patterns through descent and genealogy ideas common to both (figure 12). Whatever the case between the tattoo and kowhaiwhai patterns, the interchange between the two clearly had links to the Koru (Neich 1994, p. 75).
Fig. 12 - Tattoo patterns from facial areas of individual variations, (Neich, 1994, p. 75, Painted Histories)
2.7.5 · Links to carving (Whakairo) Early pieces of Māori art, tempting links back to the origin myth, were classed the Tangaroa style, a glamorised term which applied to East Polynesia. In Te Toi Whakairo, Mead states, that according to the present state of knowledge, Aotearoa (New Zealand) was settled in the period 900-1000 A.D., known as Ngā Kākano or ‘the seeds’, and he points out that the foundations of Māori art were established (Mead, 1986, p. 15). Art from this period is most likely to resemble work found in the Society Islands, the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, the Lower Cooks and could possibly be found in Hawaii and Easter Island (Mead, 1986, p. 31). Most objects from this period are mainly done in stone, ivory or bone. No wooden objects have been found at this time. The Rei pounamu or pendant of greenstone (Fig. 12) from this
period is modelled on the tooth of the sperm whale, and believed to have been found in Fortrose, Southland. The tongue or straight tooth shape is the base of many ornaments, which include the reiputa and chevron amulets. An example of Māori art from that period is the Fortrose necklace, a collection of small tooth-shaped units resembling small whale teeth, found at a beach Fortrose, Southland.
Fig. 13 - Rei Pounamu Pendant. (Mead, 1986, p. 156, Te Toi Whakairo)
Te Tipunga or ‘the growth’ period (1200-1500 A.D.) gave rise to many objects shaped as pendants and adzes. An example of Māori art from this period is the Fortrose necklace, a collection of small tooth-shaped units resembling small whale teeth, found at a beach Fortrose, Southland.
Fig. 14 - Fortrose Necklace, Southland (Mead, 1986, p. 157, Te Toi Whakairo) The next period is ‘the blossoming’ or Te Puawaitanga. Work from this period shows more of the transition into the curvilinear style. Mead writes, ‘There is not a great deal of Puawaitanga material about but what exists amply demonstrates the artistry of the ancestors in wood and greenstone, which become highly valued during this period.’ Artifacts from this period were highly sought after therefore there are few examples available for analysis (Mead, 1986, p. 32). A fine example is the Patetonga Lintel (figure 15) on the following page.
Fig. 15 - Patetonga Lintel from Hauraki (Howe, K.R. 2006, Vaka moana - Voyages of the ancestors) Mead’s naming of the period ‘Puawaitanga’ is indicative of the ‘free-flowing mode of artistic expression’ (Mead, 1986, p.30) of the curvilinear style which was not seen in the Kakano and Tipunga phases; those periods favoured the rectilinear styles reminiscent of the earlier Polynesian tradition. The last developmental sequence in Māori art, according to Mead, is Te Huringa or ‘the turning’. The impact of colonisation and new technologies on Māori culture from the 1800 onwards was reflected in the arts. The introduction of steel tools opened up a new era in carving which saw extensive and innovative use of surface decoration. Raharuhi Rukupo’s whare whakairo (carved meeting house), Te Hau-ki Turanga, that resides in the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington was carved in the 1860s in the East Coast style (see Fig.15) and is a prime example from Te Huringa. The surface decoration was carved using steel tools and the Koru is featured on the brow of many of the carved pou (posts). Te Hau ki Turanga is viewed as a national treasure for both Māori and Pakeha New Zealanders.
Fig. 16 - Te Hau-ki Turanga (Mead, 1986, p. 77) A review of this section offers an insight into the how the Koru was developed in the MÄ ori art tradition. It is important to understand that the Koru has developed in Aotearoa, New Zealand and was not brought here under the influence of earlier art traditions.
Mead (1997) in Māori Art on the World Scene negates the theory that elements of Māori art bear resemblance to Chinese traditions or to the Northwest Coast of America and are somehow linked to the artistic development from those cultures (Mead, 1997, p. 25). ‘Early evidence such as Fig. 16 of the Waitore Haumi canoe prow (Taranaki) clearly indicate a change in surface treatment in woodcarving, from the use of elements (such as the ngao or punch mark) in a rectilinear manner to a curvilinear formation. This is perhaps an early indicator to the origins of the Koru in Māori pattern and surface-carving design. It is a definite indicator for the use of spirals’. (C. Kumeroa, personal communication, 3 June 2009) This Haumi (bow cover) from a Polynesian-style canoe has been carbon-dated to the sixteenth century (see Fig. 16). The surface decoration was applied using the edge of a toki (adze). Mead (1986) writes about the significance of this artefact: ‘The spiral and line forms represent the two successive lines of development in Māori art: the early Polynesian form of geometric shapes and the later Māori curvilinear art. On this truly transitional piece, both lines coincide’ (Mead, 1984, p. 220).
Fig. 17 - Haumi (canoe bow cover) (Brown, 2005, p. 42, Māori arts of the gods)
In W.J.Phillip’s Māori Carving (1995) is the suggestion that the Koru is related to the spiral: ‘There are a number of instances of the Koru being used as a spiral, or stages in which spirals appear to have a relationship to the conception of a Koru’ (Phillips, 1955, p. 19). The Koru is one of the elements of the curvilinear style that is used from the Te Puawaitanga period onwards. It is the major point of difference that sets the Māori art tradition apart from the rest of the Polynesian art traditions; ‘The curvilinear motifs so characteristic of Māori carving are conspicuously absent in Polynesia.’ (Buck, 1949, p. 314)
E Mervyn Taylor (1906-1964), known for the elegance and attention to detail of his wood engravings, produced over 150 book illustrations that accompanied the book-length feature Life in the Pa. Taylor was known to have “established the beginnings of a tradition of high standards in illustration, typography and book design in all the School Publications' publications", according to John Drawbridge, who was an artist and School Journal contributor alongside Taylor (National Library of New Zealand, n.d.). Reproductions of Taylor’s representation of New Zealand birds and Māori legends were seen as an important change towards New Zealand content in the School Journal of the 1940s.
Fig. 18 - Cover illustration for the School Journal, Part 3, 1960. (Taylor, 1960) Commercial artist and typographer, Joseph Churchward, of Samoan descent and known to have handcrafted over 570 original typefaces, developed the Te Huringa style ‘Churchward
Māori’ typefaces. The example in Fig. 18 shows skilfully hand-rendered type with elaborate use of the Koru.
Fig. 19 - Churchward Māori typeface Museum of New Zealand (n.d.) The Koru is the main element in the formation of kowhaiwhai but it is linked to the art of woodcarving, as written by Neich: ‘All of the kowhaiwhai artists mentioned by Williams are equally famous as woodcarvers, a state of affairs that has continued into modern times.’ (Neich, 1994, p. 55) The Koru’s development is an important part of Māori art history and should be a part of New Zealand’s design history. It is used everywhere and yet there is only a basic understanding of the meaning and origin of the Koru.
| Upoko Tuatoru · Chapter Three 3.1 · Methodology This chapter looks at surveys and methods used to gather information on the ways New Zealand people interpret the meaning of the Koru, and is there enough resources on Māori design in relation to the Koru available to New Zealand designers. There is also a deconstruction of a site that uses the Koru in their brand and work for clients. 3.1.1 · Questionnaires & surveys Research for this thesis was done through the means of online surveys, questionnaires and interviews. One questionnaire was given to five businesses in New Zealand that use the Koru in their brand. An online survey was sent at random to the general public. Two interviews and four email interviews were conducted as well as five New Zealand design companies were contacted and sent survey questions. A scan of various New Zealand websites that use the Koru in their branding was conducted to determine the treatment of the Koru on the Internet. The review excludes government departments, as the Koru is a common factor in their branding and the usage, and in this area of identity, there is an adequate consultation process with Māori. An online survey was administered to 100 participants, the majorty aged from 20-45 years, with an relatively even distribution of gender (56% male and 44% female) and of the major ethnic groups residing in New Zealand, (Statistics New Zealand, n.d.) as follows:
People were able to identify with more than one ethnic group, therefore, percentages do not add up to 100. Survey questions: !
What does the Koru mean/represent to you?
How much do you know about the Koru?
Do you think it's ok for the Koru to be used by non New Zealanders in NZ or overseas?
What icon/image do you think best represents New Zealand?
Note: Some of the questions percentages do not do up to 100 as some of the participants selected more than one answer. The question, “what does the Koru mean or represent to you?” revealed the majority of people stating Māori culture and growth/new life being the main choice of answer. New Zealand and the fern frond were also thought of as part of the Koru’s identity. The overwhelming response to this question was that the Koru was associated with Māori culture, followed by the idea that it represented ‘growth and new life’; thirdly it was linked to New Zealand. Another question, “how much do you know about the Koru?”, showed that 34% knew nothing at all about it, 46% had little knowledge and 17% had an average amount of knowledge with only 5% knowing a fair amount. Therefore, the findings from this questionnaire concluded that almost 80% of people surveyed know very little or nothing at all about the meanings and origins of the Koru. This would indicate that an educational resource would not only benefit designers but the wider public. To the question of whether or not it is acceptable for the Koru to be used by designers in New Zealand and/or overseas, 60% replied yes but with the general consensus that “if it's used 39
respectfully”, “if they know what it means and represents”,” as long as they recognize where it comes from and use it with the respect it deserves” and “If rooted in their own identity, to be interpreted by their own cultural identity language. If used in association with this country, then it belongs to Māori as it is the foundation of our indigenous design developed by our tupuna”. The results to this question show that the majority of people feel comfortable with the Koru being used but with respect and knowledge of what it means and represents. It has been revealed through researching online sites, there is ‘over-use’ of the Koru in branding and identity within New Zealand by designers. The resources available to designers (literature and websites) offer only generic meanings. A deeper understanding of the origins and meanings of the Koru could assist with the design process. The resource proposed will assist with ground level knowledge. This research has established the need for more in-depth information with the common belief that education will help designers working with the Koru, which is the base of Māori art. From this one symbol many other designs can emerge. This should be addressed in detail in future research. The significance of the Koru was the basis for interviews that gathered the opinion from a group of designers, artists and carvers who have had experience with the use of the Koru in New Zealand. Amongst those interviewed, the general consensus is that there is a definite need for an educational resource to be introduced within design institutions. This would benefit future designers and those already working in the industry. An interview and email response from local Māori carver and artist, Manu Bennett, reiterates that Koru use is ‘good exposure for Māori, but it becomes commercialised and loses its sacredness’. It was also asserted that ‘as long as they [New Zealand designers] are taught the
fundamentals of Māori design, then it [using the Koru] would be a good idea’. (M. Bennett, personal communication, 26 May 2009) Bennett states in an email interview: Q) What is your interpretation of the Koru? What does it mean to you? A) My interpretation of the koru originates from the pitau of the ponga tree, symbolising origin and life. It is a fundamental element for when I am designing moko and I regularly use the koru in many of my mahi toi (art). In an International sense, I do enjoy seeing the koru respectfully used throughout mainstream marketing as it does give me a sense of where/whom it belongs too. Why, because it is being utilised in a way where it has become an organic element in design that identifies a sector/company of New Zealand. One that is recognised, I believe throughout the World. On the other hand, it has also been exploited as amongst many other cultural elements of Maoritanga.
Q) Do you think it is the responsibility of schools and design institutions to provide the “fundamentals” of Māori art (in particular the Koru, as it is widely used and well known by designers)? A) Yes I do, it should first be the responsibility of Ministry of Education to add Māori Art into the mainstream Curriculum so there would be a more bi-cultural sense of complementation with the Māori Studies Department. A grey area, but allowing Māori Art to be a unit within the mainstream art classes. A good element to bring the two departments together, and have non-Māori students experience the tikanga of mahi toi, and establish an appreciation of the unique style of aesthetics Aotearoa possesses.
Another person voiced their opinion that high schools should deliver more Māori art history content. I did history in high school and we did only a small section in New Zealand history and that’s where it would have been helpful. That’s where we could use more information about the koru and New Zealand History. It should be compulsory. R. Kendrick (personal communication, 4 June 2009) 41
One interviewee had a more personal connection with the Koru as a symbol. The Koru, to me represents many positive aspects of life. It represents new life, emerging. It symbolizes virtue and integrity. As an icon it is balanced, stable and strong. To us as a people it has spiritual power and mana. (R. Williams, personal communication, 4 June 2009)
Through these interviews it has become clear that a resource will aid the design industry. The education resource, as stated, will benefit the process for designers, giving them a better understanding by instilling confidence and enabling them to use it more creatively. This in turn will provide the designers with the tools to be able to give an oral history to their concepts, as is the common practice in Māori culture and in terms of design marketing. An improved creativity with the Koru will result in less generic design that is common in New Zealand brand identity. Also, thorough background knowledge of the Koru’s origin and significance to Māori culture will prevent an inappropriate use (see Julian Bailey’s thesis, 2008). In the analysis of the websites using the Koru in New Zealand branding, the five listed below were found that used the term ‘Koru’ as central to their identity. These five companies showed a limited understanding of the Koru’s meaning and origin. !
Gray & Co. Lawyers – abogados
The first listed, a law firm in the Republic of Panama, had a page dedicated to the meaning of the Koru used in the logo as follows:
The "Koru" is a Māori symbol from New Zealand, which I chose to have developed into the company logo because of what it represents. The "koru" is simply the coiled frond shoot of a fern, which is developing into the frond. Nevertheless, the Koru signifies extending to reach the light, striving for perfection, and the encouragement for new growth. Koru can mean the development of a new life, with a hope for the future, but also the need to strive to achieve growth and perfection. Kathrin Bolstad, a New Zealander, did the design of the company logo.
Fig. 20 - Gray & Co. Beth Anne Gray J. (n.d.) The logo in Fig. 20 shows a negative form of the Koru with other elements of Māori design that look unfinished. The Koru is not really evident in the branding. ‘Koru Travel’ (see Fig. 20) uses a more natural looking symbol distinctly representing the stalk and bulb of the fern frond, which is also featured on the page as an image of a fern frond. There is also a type error of the spelling of ‘fern’ with the word, ‘forn’, which shows their insensitive attitude on the integrity of the logo, as the site has been up long enough to correct the error. They include a definition of the Koru as: Deriving from an unfolding forn frond and a symbol to New Zealand conveys the idea of perpetual movement and its inward coil suggests a return to the point of origin. (Koru Travel, 2008)
Fig. 21 - Koru Travel logo Koru travel Ltd (2008) Koru Medical, a medical unit in Albany, New Zealand has a small flash animation of a fern frond morphing into a very generic looking Koru.
Fig. 22 - Morph from fern fond to Koru symbol: left to right. Koru Medical (n.d.) There is no reference anywhere on the site on the definition or meaning of the Koru, except for the visual in the logo animation. An email reply about the question â€˜What are your thoughts on using the 'koru' motif or symbol in your company brand?â€™ submitted on their site
from ‘Koru Medical’ said, ‘Thank you for your enquiry. I have forwarded to someone to answer your question.’ To date, no further correspondence has been received. The fourth site, ‘Koru media’ was approached to give their understanding of the Koru: For me the choice was simple, I was looking to find a name/symbol that was reflective to the place and my product, Koru is the unfurling fern frond, symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace and is representative of New Zealand and is abundant from my office window! Antony Jeanes (Koru Media, personal communication, May 20, 2009)
Also listed on their website is the generic definition of the Koru that is commonly used: Koru is the Māori name given to the new unfurling fern frond and it symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. Media is the storage and transmission methods used to store and deliver information to a required audience. Using a combination of the two words for the production of digital information seemed a natural choice. Thus korumedia.com was registered and replaced the former Saronic Media Solutions. (Koru Media, 2009)
Of the five companies approached, only Koru Media responded to the online interview, but all definitions were similar and lacked any further understanding of the Koru. Koru Websites did not respond, but was of particular interest as the company utilised the Koru symbol in both their branding and design. The sites were of no great use as they provided no feedback and their use of the Koru showed latency and only utilised the Koru in their branding. Therefore, Koru Websites has become the focal point of this analysis.
3.1.2 · A website deconstruction and analysis “Whakamaoritia” (redefine in Māori terms) of the ‘Koru Websites’ company:
Fig. 23 - The ‘building’ steps Dekker, G., & Dekker- Groeneveld, I. (1999) Koru Websites The ‘Building Steps’, as listed by Koru Websites (under the ‘how we work section’), for their site design, utilising the Koru: 1. Initial design in the form of screenshots (Photoshop). 2. You feed back to us on the initial design and give us the information we need to start building the website. (Option) We can handle the paperwork to get you the domain name you want. 3. Follow-up design and further development of the website. 4. Testing the website.
5. Website is online. 6. Maintenance + updates (subsequent option). An alternative to the above process used by Koru Websites as proposed by this thesis would be to show the fundamentals of design principles used for the Koru. 1. Clearly state what the Koru represents 2. Consultation process, what key components do they want to reflect in the design 3. Why are they wanting the Koru branding (identity) 4. Go away after consultation process, come back with site information (content) 5. Design process, follow up design layout, concept and thumbnails (etc) 6. Further development of website 7. Testing the website 8. Clear definition of the design concept to be added to the website whakapapa (geneaology). The clear point of difference, as shown by this process, is that all the designs will have a whakapapa (geneaology), where generic overuse of the Koru in brand design, does not. Deconstruction: Location of Koru: Top left in banner, positioned next to images used in association with NZ, the pohutukawa and an example of Māori carving Colour: Theme colour is red, another colour used to represent Māori (content) The lower, right of web page features a non-descriptive figure, (somewhat of a strange representation of the tiki?). It has primitive connotations. The overall image projects an indigenous association with New Zealand (Māori).
Fig. 24 - Klaske pounamu site Koru Websites, (n.d.) Klaske buys greenstone.
Deconstruction of the other sites they have made, reveals that one in particular, (Klaske Buys Greenstone) shows the inappropriate use and lack of knowledge.
Fig. 25 - Navigation buttons Dekker, G., & Dekker- Groeneveld, I. (1999) Koru Websites
The navigation bar demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of how the Koru is used (in Māori Design). For example, the ‘home’ navigation button (Fig. 25a) shows a partially finished Koru next to a completed ‘volute’ (found on the columns of Ionic columns). In Māori design (customary) this would not be a usual occurrence. The ‘what is’ navigation button (Fig. 25b)
features a semi-mangopare (hammer-head shark) design. Again, this demonstrates a lack of knowledge. The ‘profile’ navigation button (Fig. 25c) repeats the misuse in the same manner as the ‘home’ button. The ‘gallery’ button (Fig. 25d) also reflects interrupted flow in the use of line that is not a feature of Māori design. The ‘contact’ button is a reflection of the whale-tail pounamu (greenstone ornament) featured in the site gallery that is not a common traditional Māori taonga (sacred object).
The contact page (see Fig. 25 – following page), features a fern frond, a generic image constantly used to reference New Zealand in relation to Māori culture. The Koru is thought to represent the fern frond, as mentioned earlier in this thesis.
Fig. 26 - Contact page Koru Websites, (n.d.) Klaske buys greenstone.
The overall navigation design lacks the ‘flow' important to fundamental Māori design principles. It is an example of ‘tokenism’; to utilize an important element of Māori art history, and shows the lack knowledge about the symbol or the design tradition behind the Koru that is the main component of the company’s branding. Whilst it is important to be creative with design, adhering to Māori design principles would benefit this site as it is using strong references to Māori culture. 3.2 · Traditional and contemporary There are many examples of the use of Koru, in the traditional and contemporary sense that follows Māori design principles, to be found. Tā moko artists leading the way in contemporary Māori design are Gordon Toi Hadfield, Rangi Kipa (Fig. 27) and Inia Taylor (Fig. 28)
Fig. 27 – Puhoro Peha Kipa, (n.d.) Rangi Kipa
Fig. 28 - Back piece Taylor, (2008) Moko Ink
The examples of Māori design shown are contemporary, or from Mead’s Te Huringa phase. Hadfield, (2008) describes the times we live in as ‘He tohu o te Wa’, literally translated as ‘Sign of the times’.
Hadfield goes further to say, ‘He Tohu O Te Wa’ is based upon the philosophy of the following Whakatauki (proverb):“Ko koe ko au, Ko au ko koe” - I am you and you are me’. These artists leading the way in tā moko (tattoo) demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of Māori design: their lines and compositions are resolved and fit with the high standards of the tohunga-whakairo, tohunga-tā moko (carving and tattoo design) traditions. Another artist using the Koru effectively is Todd Couper of Ngati Kahungungu descent, who completed the Diploma of Art in Craft and Māori Design at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua (1995). He majored in woodcarving/sculpture and graduated with honours. One of his artworks shows a contemporary use of the Koru in Māori design terms that featured in the Spirit Wrestler Gallery that exhibits cross-cultural artworks from both the Inuit and Māori cultures. (see Fig. 29)
Fig. 29 – Hokioi Spirit Wrestler Gallery (2009) Karanga: The Calling 51
Another example of the use of the Koru, seen cleverly depicted in the negative space of the sculptural form is Chris Bailey’s piece (see Fig. 29) Pangurunguru (Storm Petrel). Bailey is a contemporary Māori artist from the tribes Ngati Porou, Ngati Hako and Te Aupouri. His work has been described as ‘largely influenced by his heritage and traditional Māori forms and concepts which he then lends a contemporary edge to thus allowing the forms to evolve’. (Bailey, 2009)
Fig. 30 - Stink Pots Spirit Wrestler Gallery (2009) Pangurunguru: Storm Petrel
There are many contemporary Māori artists who are use the Koru. Their work in great demand and shows that there is a market for Māori design.
3.3 · Summary From this research, it shows that the general public know very little about the Koru except for a basic definition that it represents growth and that it is a symbol representing Māori culture. Areas where people have seen the Koru were ‘designs on body ornaments’ and ‘most of the corporate logos associated with tourism and the New Zealand government’. As shown in the examples, a lack of knowledge of Māori design using the koru can lead to a misuse and misrepresentation in association with Māori culture. Consultation with Māori designers is the key to using the Koru properly, as seen with the Air New Zealand Koru brand identity that is commonly referred to as the best commercial use of the Koru: it is an internationally recognised symbol that has its origins in Māori culture. Where there is a thorough knowledge in the design disciplines, like tā moko (tattoo) and whakairo (carving), the Koru becomes a powerful symbol of design.
| Upoko Tuawha · Chapter Four 4.1 · Conclusion It is evident that designers using the Koru would greatly benefit from the use of an educational resource concerning the Koru, the meanings and origins. Consultation with Māori designers working with tikanga (customary protocols) is the key to a better brand use of the Koru and will result in a more authentic identity. Understanding meaning and origins will provide the confidence needed to experiment with the Koru to produce less generic symbols in New Zealand design. ‘An education and marketing programme will be vital to establish the quality of goods and the cultural heritage underpinning them’ (Mikaere, 2005). To further support this statement, Julie Kipa, as quoted on the NEON (National Equal Opportunity Network) website says: ‘The more our iconography is seen and used in new situations, the more culturally relevant it is, like language. The participation of Māori iconography within different spheres makes it readily available to everybody’. (Neon, 2006) This in turn, supports the point made by this research that designers working with the Koru should refer to a more traditional background to create new symbolism in design, avoiding the generic overuse of the Koru. The ‘safe’ symbol in New Zealand design will only ‘grow’ if it is used with confidence. This confidence will only be gained through a thorough understanding and education of the meanings and origins of the Koru. The use of the Koru and its role in the evolution of Māori art and design is significant to art and design history. Although an application of the Koru is taught in secondary education, to some degree, an in-depth understanding is still not taught and what is given is a generic meaning. This generalisation is then carried through into design industry. Conceptually, it
has had meaning applied and always it is thought of as being the same ‘unfurling fern frond’ or ‘growth and new life’. It is constantly used to reference a New Zealand identity. When used in kowhaiwhai, the Koru element forms other designs that have specific meanings in the context of Māori history and tribal whakapapa (geneaology), so it is important. All Māori designs have meaning and reflect the Māori worldview. The Koru is linked with the woodcarving tradition and is fundamental in the art of tā moko in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It is part of the curvilinear style that has become part of Māori art and design identity. The Koru, like Māori art, evolved here separate from the rest of the world and so has become important to the New Zealand identity. A better use and understanding of the Koru in branding would not only be beneficial to designers, but would enrich the national sense of identity on the world stage in a competitive marketplace where Māori culture is a selling point. ‘Token’ use of the Koru shows a disrespect or disregard for Māori culture, even though in some cases this is unintentional. Again, a lack of available resources is the problem. As stated by this research, the intention is to create awareness and education about the Koru, so that it can be used with respect in the creation of better design that reflects New Zealand and its culture accurately. The Koru is an important symbol and element of Māori art and deserves better recognition in New Zealand design history.
Ka mimiti te puna i Taumārere Ka toto te puna i Hokianga Ka toto te puna i Taumārere Ka mimiti te puna i Hokianga
When the fountain of TaumÄ rere is empty The fountain of Hokianga is full When the fountain of TaumÄ rere is full The fountain of Hokianga is empty
This ancient whakatauki (proverb) of the Ngapuhi tribe describes the reliance of one hapu (sub tribe) on the other. This should be reflected in the attitude of designers to MÄ ori culture, where the Koru is concerned. Where resources are depleted, then replenish them. If there is a need for knowledge, then rely on those who have it, that way the nation is able to move forward.
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| Papakupu · Glossary of Terms
Aotearoa New Zealand (literally translated as ‘the land of the long white cloud). Hapū A sub tribe - section of a large kinship group. Hongi Māori greeting involving the pressing or rubbing together of the noses. Iwi Extended kinship group, tribe, nation, people, or race. Often refers to a large group of people descended from a common ancestor. Kai moana Seafood or shellfish. Kaitiaki Guardian. Kape Cresent shaped element in kowhaiwhai patterns. Kaupapa The strategy or matter of discussion. Kawa A ceremony to remove tapu from a new house or canoe. Kehu Of reddish or fair colour. Kirituhi Skin art (in relation to tattooing). Korero Speech or narrative. To speak. Koru The basic design element of Māori art. Kowhaiwhai Painted scroll ornamentation, commonly used on meeting house rafters. Mahi toi Art and crafts. Mana A supernatural force in a person, place or object. Spiritual power.
Manaia Stylised figure used in carving. Manawa Heart (of a person). Marae The courtyard in front of the meeting house. Mauri Life principle, a material symbol of a life principle. Mihi To greet, pay tribute, acknowledge or to thank. Mokai A servant, captive, slave or pet. Moko kauwae Chin tattoo on a female (Māori). Pā Fortified village or stockade. Patupaiarehe Fairy folk, fair-skinned mythical people who lived in the bush on mountains. Pītau A young succulent shoot or frond of a fern. Pito The navel, a section of umbilical cord nearest a baby's body. Ponga Tall, native tree-fern with prominent, peg-like frond bases on the trunk and having fronds green or yellow-green above and silver-white beneath. Poropiti Select individuals who are endowed with special gifts to foresee the future. Tā moko/moko Māori tattooing on the face or body. Tangata Person, man, human being. Tāniko Border for cloaks, etc. made by finger weaving. Taonga Something prized or a treasure. Sacred object.
Tapu To be sacred. Te Moana Nui A Kiwa The Pacific ocean. Tikanga The customary protocols of Māori. The correct procedure, custom, or manner of doing something. Tohunga Skilled person in a particular field. Tukutuku Ornamental lattice-work, used particularly between carvings around the walls of meeting houses. Tupuna Ancestor. Uru Hair of the head. Waiata Song. Wairua Spirit, soul, quintessence - spirit of a person which exists beyond death. Waka Canoe. Wānanga A place for tribal knowledge, lore or learning. Whaikōrero To make a formal speech. Whakapapa Genealogy, lineage or descent. Whakatauki Proverbs or sayings. Whānau Extended family, family group. Whare House. Whenua Land, country, ground, (also placenta or afterbirth).
| Tāpiritanga · Appendices
Email sent to Koru Media. May 20, 2009. Kiaora. I am doing a thesis (at Whanganui Design School) and it is on the Koru (and how it impacts branding) and so I was wondering if I could get your view on a question. What was/is your whakaaro or thoughts on using the 'koru' motif or symbol in your company brand? I hope you are able to help me with my thesis. Darren Tauroa Hi Darren. For me the choice was simple, I was looking to find a name/symbol that was reflective to the place and my product, Koru is the unfurling fern frond, symbolizing new life, growth, strength and peace and is representative of New Zealand and is abundant from my office window! Regards, Antony Jeanes (www.korumedia.com)
Email sent to Rangi Williams. June 5, 2009. Kiaora Rangi, ko Darren tenei. E pehea ana koe? Just a few questions I pose to you for part of my research on my thesis. 1. What is your interpretation of the Koru? What does it mean to you? 2. Do you think it is the responsibility of schools and design institutions to provide the "fundamentals" of Māori art (in particular the koru, as it is widely used and well known by designers)? Hope you can enlighten me with your wisdom so I can help educate those (as well as my self) that need it! Hei kona ra e hoa In answer to your questions, the koru, to me represents many positive aspects of life. It represents new life, emerging. It symbolizes virtue and integrity. As an icon it is balanced, stable and strong. To us as a people it has spiritual power and mana. And yes, I think it is the responsibility of the institutions to provide the fundamentals of Māori art.
Interview with Manu Bennett. May 26, 2009. What do you think of the Koru being used in design? Good exposure for Māori how ever can become commercialised and not tapu anymore. As long as they are taught the fundamentals in Māori history it’s okay, they can then add their ‘own flavour’. Using the Koru in logos and brand identifies Māori and the symbol.
Have to be careful on how it’s used (inappropriate use). If used too many times can become less unique. What is your interpretation of the Koru? What does it mean to you? My interpretation of the koru originates from the pitau of the ponga tree, symbolising origin and life. It is a fundamental element for when I am designing moko and I regularly use the koru in many of my mahitoi. In an International sense, I do enjoy seeing the koru respectfully used throughout mainstream marketing as it does give me a sense of where/whom it belongs too. Why, because it is being utilised in a way where it has become an organic element in design that identifies a sector/company of New Zealand. One that is recognised, I believe throughout the World. On the other hand, it has also been exploited as amongst many other cultural elements of Māoritanga. Do you think it is the responsibility of schools and design institutions to provide the "fundamentals" of Māori art (in particular the koru, as it is widely used and well known by designers)? Yes I do, it should first be the responsibility of Ministry of Education to add Maori Art into the mainstream Curriculum so there would be a more bi-cultural sense of complementation with the Maori Studies Department. A grey area, but allowing Māori Art to be a unit within the mainstream Art classes. A good element to bring the two departments together, and have non-Māori students experience the tikanga of mahitoi, and establish an appreciation of the unique style of aesthetics Aotearoa posesses.
Interview with Rebecca Kendric. June 4, 2009. What is your interpretation of the Koru? If someone asks you ‘ What is the definition of the koru? How would you describe it?
It’s a symbol of growth starting from being born (I guess) and turning into something great in life. It’s a common way of branding NZ because its associated with the fern, (cause it is a fern) the silver fern, the all blacks and it is used widely in Maori art.
Describe the Koru. Its really just kinda like a spiral. So then you are misinformed then because there is no research behind it? Yeah coz we were taught it in high school but we weren’t told what the meaning was. We used it in art. We got told we were focusing on the koru, we went to the museum and it was weird because it was not a really in depth thing. I didn’t understand the proper meaning and thoughts behind it. The meaning was not the main focus.
The art teacher could have told you then you would know what you are doing? I did history in high school and we did only a small section in NZ history and that’s where it would have been helpful. That’s where we could use more information about the koru and New Zealand History. It should be compulsory.