Characteristics of traditional and contemporary art and design on Auckland urban marae

Harwood, Haupuru
Braddock, Christopher
Webb, Robert
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Master of Arts (Art and Design)
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Auckland University of Technology

The purpose of this study is to explore the various characteristics of urban marae in Auckland including the use and meaning of artworks within marae wharehui(gathering place meeting house) including the materials, the makers and the decision making processes. Also included is a description of the artworks on these marae (gathering places), the context of understanding Maori cultural values and traditions as well as differences between traditional and contemporary ritual ceremonies and protocols. The thesis identifies thirty three (33) urban marae in Auckland and six (6) of these were selected as case studies for exploration of the above factors in depth. The interviews of the key personnel from each of the case studies enables exploration of the meaning and purpose attached to each marae and their selected artworks. The findings suggest that the traditional marae generally utilized indigenous or New Zealand materials and artists. This was because the classification of a traditional marae was directly linked to their local or tangata whenua standing and this in turn meant they had both cultural and strengths in resources. In contrast the religious institutional marae usually lacked significant artworks (including traditional construction components) which was said to be because of a lack of available funding, resources and support. Overall the study finds that values, beliefs and mauri were important influences in understanding the meaning and purpose of selected artworks and the origin of the materials and construction of those artworks. For example, the role and status of the kaumatua (elder) and the use of traditional rituals and ceremonies and protocols would often authenticate the artworks or artifacts even though they were not indigenous. Especially important is the use of te reo Maori (Maori language) in this process. No reira e nga tupuna - manaakitia te wairua, te mauri o nga mahi I tukua iho mai e koutou I roto I enei marae wharehui e ono, a I roto hoki I nga wharehui o te ao whaanui. Kia mahia tonu mo ake, ake, ake tonu. Therefore, (this plea) to ancestors – bless the spirituality and life essence that have been handed down for each of these six gathering place meeting houses and for all meeting houses through out the world. May this continue for ever and ever and ever after.

Maori art , Decoration and ornament , Marae , New Zealand
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