Taonga Maori will take centre stage in Maori Television’s new arts series, Te Irikura, which starts Sunday August 5 at 5.00pm.
Made in conjunction with the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia in Rotorua, the series explores the history and customary use of many Maori art forms over 26 episodes.
Each week, renowned artists will take the audience through the steps to make particular taonga and experts in traditional resources will take viewers to the source.
Travel to the South Island to gain an insight on pounamu, learn how weapons are extracted from whale jaws and find out from artists throughout the country the many uses of plants and materials.
Producer Lara Northcroft, from Rotorua’s Velvet Stone Media, says taonga Maori were traditionally admired for their functionality rather than pieces of art.
“Some were highly prized because of the degree of skill needed to produce them, the length of time it took or the scarcity of materials. Others were associated with rituals, prominent ancestors or spiritual beliefs,” she says.
Te Irikura features renowned taonga Maori artists and craftspeople including carvers, James Rickard, Clive Fugill, Takirirangi Smith and Hekenukumai Busby as well as weavers Matekino Lawless, Karl Leonard, Mere Walker and Kohai Grace.
Northcroft says Te Irikura begins with simple instructional methods for basic taonga and gets more difficult as the series progresses.
The glimpse into the world of weaving starts with an insight into the customary importance of flax to Maori; how it grows and is harvested, prepared and dyed for different uses.
This is followed by a tutorial session on how to make a simple basket, the following week those skills will be transferred to making a basic kete.
Viewers will learn how to make a wide range of taonga from a simple kono to taonga puoro as well as learning how traditional tools like uhi and toki are made.
Tune in to Te Irikura, premiering on Maori Television from Sunday August 5 at 5.00pm.