‘Te Kākano’ literally means ‘the seed’ and is used in this instance to indicate the beginning of a series of ongoing cultural portal projects.
Te Kākano: A gift on behalf of the Nation
The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute - Te Puia, is creating a 10 metre (32.8 ft) carving as a gift to China. Once completed, the carving will act as a cultural portal between the two countries. It will be an enduring symbol of cultural respect from the people of New Zealand to the people of China.
This carving is now centre stage at the entrance to the New Zealand Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and will be completed onsite at the Expo by Te Puia’s carvers. The World Expo, the biggest in world history, was opened on the 1st May and runs until the 31st October. The completed carving will be gifted on behalf of the Nation by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, the Hon John Key, to Chinese officials on 9 July 2010.
Te Kākano: The concept
This concept has been designed using two traditional forms; the waka maumahara (canoe cenotaph) and the waharoa (traditional gateway). The carving has been developed in two main pieces which will be lashed together using a haumi join (traditional canoe join).
The waka maumahara is a customary monument reserved to memorialise high-ranking chiefs following their deaths. In this instance the cenotaph’s purpose is to memorialise the relationship between New Zealand and China.
The waharoa, while literally an entrance way, is a threshold between two distinct environments. In traditional terms the waharoa was a portal between two separate groups - the group within the pā and a visiting group. The waharoa in this context symbolises a relationship pathway between the two nations.
Te Kākano: The Kauri
The Kauri (Agathis australis) log selected for this project came from a swamp in Northland New Zealand and is approximately 3,500 years old. The log weighed between twenty and thirty tonnes and was approximately 3 metres in diameter. The waka form was shaped in Doubtless Bay by the internationally renowned canoe builder and navigator, Hekenukumai Busby (Te Rārawa, Ngati Kahu).