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Tauihu carving at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.A Tauihu carving was blessed and gifted to Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) yesterday at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Rotorua is this week hosting MEETINGS organised by BEIA – the most significant national trade show in Aotearoa, New Zealand, for the business events industry, where international buyers come together to discuss new business opportunities.

BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins said it was incredibly humbling to see the taonga unveiled today.

“We feel extremely privileged, and we also accept the responsibility and understand the importance of what has just happened. It’s a beautiful piece – it’s a new member of the team and I feel quite overwhelmed by the manaaki [support and care] we’ve just been shown.”

Hopkins explained that the genesis of this moment came together over a cup of coffee last year when BEIA was talking about bringing MEETINGS to Rotorua and what that might look like.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a taonga from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau (National School of Wood Carving) that could be put on display at our annual events, and which could be part of the BEIA organisation.”

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) Pouako Whakairo Rākau (wood carving tutor) Hohepa Peni led the carving of the piece titled Waka Putanga, also working on it with tauira (students). He explained that a Tauihu is the front-end prow of a waka in miniature form, representing people coming from overseas for MEETINGS and the emergence of ideas.

The rākau is from a 3000-year-old log of kauri from Tā (Sir) Hekenukumai Busby, a Te Tai Tokerau elder who led the revival of traditional Māori navigation and ocean voyaging skills. This same kauri log was also used to carve a 10-metre waka maumahara at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2019 as part of the NZMACI Tuku Iho Living Legacy Exhibition.

Peni says the tauihu has a tongue shape cut out at the bottom, which is referred to as the haumi kokomo—a specific join that extends the waka and makes it longer.

“In a different context – haumi means ‘to join’ as a kaupapa (purpose) – it reflects how we seek to join ideas at this MEETINGS event, with the connecting of business,” Peni said.

“The two stylised figures represent tangata ora (the living) – the people who will be at MEETINGS and the people of BEIA.

“This form is also in putanga style, which means ‘to emerge’, to step out. We’ve also tried to keep this culturally accessible to all, and we have contemporise the piece with hollowing-out techniques, which are more sculptural, to show off the rākau – it’s not over-designed because it’s beautiful kauri.

“The pāua (abalone) shell inlays acknowledge travellers converging like rivers or seas.

“The kura (feathers) represent the dreams everyone brings for the future. At MEETINGS, attendees are looking for connections and outcomes to make their dreams become a reality. The feathers in an indigenous context connect us back with our tūpuna (ancestors),” Peni explained.

Waka Putanga will be installed at the Energy Events Centre at MEETINGS over the next two days.

Whano, whano!

Haramai te Toki!

Haumi ē !, hui ē !

Taiki ē ! 




Edited by Peter Needham in Rotorua, New Zealand