Twelve carved posts, each representing a divine realm in Te Arawa culture, reach towards the sky at Te Heketanga ā Rangi (Heavenly Origins). Opened in 2007 as part of a major redevelopment at Te Puia, the posts are enhanced by steel kōwhaiwhai (Māori visual art works) by renowned designer Carin Wilson, with two sets, each climbing upwards.
At the top of each set are carved depictions of our universe. One set, Te Ara Tapu (the sacred pathway), represents constellations to guide Māori spirits back to our spiritual homeland of Hawaiki. The second set represents constellations to guide Māori in the physical world. Each realm has a carved guardian at its base, which has been designed and carved by the NZMACI Carving School at Te Puia.
Māori tradition is full of myths and legends about unions between gods and mortals. When you begin your Te Puia guided tour you will hear the story of Puhaorangi (Gentle Breath of Heaven), who guards the first realm and his half-mortal son, Ohomairangi (Surprise from Heaven), the principle ancestor of Te Arawa people and the inspiration behind the name ‘Heavenly Origins’.
Each of the carved guardians has been designed wearing a korowai (cloak). The carved designs of the cloaks symbolise the deity’s characteristics or represent the realm they protect (either spiritual or physical). All of the guardians are portrayed with a closed cloak, except 'lo Matua Kore' whose cloak reveals 'Te Ara Poutama a Tawhaki' - the pathway to enlightenment.
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