Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tukutuku panels - Roimata



The next stage of my art course has officially begun (I passed the other one by the way) and already the papers and projects are flying thick and fast. 
This course has a great deal more writing to it than the last one and so I thought that, in leiu of posting the usual stuff, I'd kill two birds with one stone and post one of the the finished reports here.

What it boils down to is that one of the projects this term is constructing a Tukutuku panel and this seems simple enough but one of the side projects was to research different panel designs and give a small presentation on what they mean and why you didn't choose them.

This gives me a chance to work on my report writing and, more importantly, allows the tutors to scare everyone with horror stories about people that submitted work without proper references, citations or sources.
For me the hardest thing is trying to write without making funny footnotes (The battle doesn't go well.  I might have to settle for making them serious and helpful)

For your convenience the words in bold are included in the small glossary found at the end.
Now read on..

The albatross is a rare and wonder visitor to the northern parts of New Zealand and was revered by the pre-European Maori.  The tears of the albatross signified something that was both rare and beautiful and as such was incorporated into tukutuku work. 
The story behind this design is about the introduction of the kumura plant, something that each and every New Zealander holds close to their heart at all times [1].  It ends tragedy but so many of the really old myths and legends do so that’s fine.

After Kupe discovered Aotearoa.  He returned to Hawaiki and his people.  Pourangagau (Pou) was sent to report on the climate and geography of the land. 

Arriving the area of Gisbourne and the East Coast with his wife and assorted hangers on [2] he looked around at this green and wonderous land of ours [3] and saw that Spring was very close.  After he returned to Ruakapanga. He was quickly sent back to Aotearoa with the Kumura Tipu (Kumura Shoots).

In order to make certain that he arrived in time for the planting season Ruakapanga loaned Pou a pair of giant birds, Harongarangi and Tiungarangi, but was very careful to make certain that Pou knew about the route to take, the necessary incantations and the great amount of care that needed to be lavished upon the pair.  After all, a giant bird is for life.  Not just for Matariki [4].
But our hero was overwhelmed by the honors that had been entrusted to him and as he luxuriated in the comfort of his flight he forgot all about the instructions, incantations and prayers.  Although the birds managed to get to Aotearoa he did not care for them at all.

When Pou found the birds outside his house they were weeping from sorrow and weariness and his attempts to make amends were just another case of ‘too little, too late’.  With heavy hearts Harongarangi and Tiungarangi took to the skies, turned towards Hawaiki and Ruakapanga, whom they knew would care for them properly.
The flight back was beset by hardship and they were attacked by Tunuioteika and Huataketake, a pair of evil spirits who took the forms of birds of prey. 

Their physical condition revealed the whole story of their journey to Rua and to say that he wasn’t happy was one of the biggest understatements since Ug the caveman had dismissed the wheel as ‘just a silly rolling rock’.  Rua caused the Anuhe and Mokoroa to attack the kumara.

This is why, to this day, the kumura is ravaged by these pests each year and the Roimata pattern is a memorial to the tears of the birds who wept at their treatment.  It is a design that is used when we wish to depict disaster in war or a catastrophe.

The design is made up of vertically stitched rows which are usually in pairs.  They are seperated by nonstitched rows.  There are different variations for different regions of the land  but the small group of XX's below shows off the basic design [5]

XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX
XX    XX

  • Tukutuku - Tukutuku panelling is a distinctive art form of the Māori people of New Zealand, a traditional latticework used to decorate meeting houses.
  • Kupe - Discoverer of Aotearoa.  Possibly mythological but undeniably legendary.
  • Aotearoa - Land of the long white cloud.  Later renamed to New Zealand.
  • Hawaiki - In Māori mythology, Hawaiki is the homeland of the Māori, the original home of the Māori, before they travelled across the sea to New Zealand. It also features as the underworld in many Māori stories.
  • Ruakapanga - A great chief.
  • Harongarangi and Tiungarangi - Magical giant albatross.
  • Matariki - Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters;  and what is referred to as the traditional Maori New Year.
  • Tunuioteika and Huataketake - A pair of evil spirits.
  • Anuhe - Caterpillar.
  • Mokoroa - A large white grub.
  1. At least the ones with good taste do.
  2. Some assistants and a couple of temps who were there on work experience.
  3. Technically it should be 'of his' but you know what I mean.
  4. Ruakapanga didn’t actually say this but it would have been very cool if he had.
  5. And I do mean basic.



  1. If I get round to it I'll post the other tukutuku panel papers that I've done. Currently they're still in note form