Toi Maramatanga

Te Kanawa, Kahutoi Mere
Robertson, Natalie
Engels-Schwarzpaul, Tina
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Master of Arts in Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

The focus of this thesis is to visually show the significance and relationship between the use of natural materials, and geometric patterns used in Māori weaving. The patterns will reflect indigenous episteme of artistic and tacit knowledge. These patterns are significant to the Māori worldview of kaitiakitanga (stewardship of knowledge), which is cognisant in the ontology of Māori weaving. These patterns are significant forms of Māori cultural symbols that reflect elements of nature, evolution of time and space. The focus is to show how natural materials can be utilised in an art form that embraces bicultural activity, as a reference to customary and new age methods of thinking and practice. This leads to self-enquiry and our own responsibilities, only to ask ourselves; What are the guiding principles within art and design, that upholds the core values of Mātauranga Māori? (Māori epistemological thinking). The concept of this thesis is to define the cultural significance of kaitiakitanga (stewardship), through the preservation of Mātauranga Māori and practice as weavers and artists. This concept challenges our own understanding of what we know and what we don’t know about the relationships between people, place, environment and use. The methods and processes used for this work will be based on customary practices and methods, using native materials, endemic to New Zealand. These materials will be harvested at different time periods. The methodologies used in this project, is a product of intrinsic knowledge and testing new boundaries, through researching more specific detail about varieties of harakeke (New Zealand flax) cultivars, testing the flexibility, functionality and durability of materials. This will challenge the test, of making sure that the methods used will be significantly practiced throughout the processes involved in the making of artistic pieces of work, in accordance to tikanga (protocols). The use of native materials enhances cultural values of kaitiakitanga as a metaphor, which asserts sustainability of Māori epistemological notions of practice and meaning.This also applies to the visual language of Māori. The concept of visual language embraces metaphoric meanings and understanding, which relates to our co-existence with the earth, animals and the elements. All these elements of nature are contained within symbolic traditional patterns. Some of these patterns have derived from phenomena of thought structure, historical events and our co-existence through our connectedness to the land, waters, oceans, sky and universe. How can Māori forms of art be embraced and imbued, in modern society, that signifies place, belonging and cultural enhancement?

Visual Maori art in weaving , Expression of meaning
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