FOR OLD CRAFTS
A force in preserving traditional Maori skills is the noted Maori carver Pine Taiapa.
In January Mr Taiapa was invited to launch the first Maori arts course to be included in the National Arts Council's annual school of music held at Ardmore. Centred on carving, its evolution and significance, the course was attended by 18 pupils.
“The most outstanding pupil was a Maori girl from Tuakau, who became the first Maori woman to attempt the carving course,” said Mr Taiapa.
“Although it was often assumed that women were not permitted to undertake carving,” he said, “this was not so. Maori tradition clearly indicated that where women were responsible for an oustanding achievement generally attributed to men, they were permitted to undertake such men's work as carving.”
Two groups attended the course at Ardmore in order to complete, on their return home, carving projects begun earlier. A Tauranga party wanted to finish their marae and meeting house at Bethlehem, while a group from Orakei wanted to complete the interior of their church on the Orakei Domain.
The Orakei project was begun after a school of Maori art held by Mr Taiapa last year in Tikitiki. The school was attended by 86 pupils and was so successful that it is to be followed by a second, between 27 August and 3 September of this year.
The formation of this second school is also due to the encouragement of the Minister of Education, Mr A. E. Kinsella. Speaking at the opening of the first, Mr Kinsella said that it would be ideal if Tikitiki were to become the venue for future courses to perpetuate Maori arts and crafts.
Mr S. R. Morrison, director of the Auckland University's Extension Department, said recently that the school would have to be restricted to about 100, as even this number would double the population of Tikitiki. Although the course would be open to all New Zealanders keen to learn and perpetuate Maori art, Mr Morrison said that priority would be given to people actually engaged in weaving and carving for meeting houses.
Under the over-all guidance of Mr Taiapa, seven tutors will teach all facets of Maori art, including carving, matting, painting and song.