adamgifford
Friday, June 26, 2009
  North of the equator

Published NZ Herald May 30

What happens when an anthropologist and an artist go in search of a long-dead carver? Some of the results can be seen at Two Rooms in Mark Adams' large-format photos of the work of Ngati Tarawhai carver Tene Waitere (1854-1931).

There is also the accompanying book, published by the University of Otago Press, which is credited not only to Adams and Cambridge University fellow Nicholas Thomas but to Waitere's great-great-grandson James Schuster and carver Lyonel Grant.

The first Waitere work Thomas saw was the Ta Moko panel in the post-Te Maori show, Taonga Maori, which travelled to Australia in 1989. It features three heads, two male with eyes open and one female with eyes closed, rendered in a realistic fashion from a single slab of wood.

It was not in Te Maori - its early 20th century creation, the fact it was not made for a house or traditional use, and even the fact Waitere incised his name on the back made it marginal to the canon of great works that show was arguing for - "but when I saw it I thought it was impressive and interesting", says Thomas.

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