Graduand Pou - Te Tohunga

Carver: Cory Boyd

The concept for the carving of this Pou was based on the Tauparapara: Tenei au. This tauparapara (incantation to begin a speech) has been used on many occasions as the start of formal speeches at Māori welcoming ceremonies. It is recited as a karakia, depicting Tāne's journey through the heavens to acquire the baskets of Knowledge.

My interpretation of this karakia / tauparapara is an acknowledgment to our ancient Tohunga, who, for generations travelled the same journey as their great ancestors before them. The journey was of self-discovery though the human mind, to transcend into an universal consciousness.

In the Whare Wānanga of the ancient Māori, this was the highest level of all schools of learning. It was here that one was taught through direct experience beyond ritual practice. The adept student reaches self-realisation and profound understanding of the all the subtle worlds that coexist within each other, from the physical to the spiritual.  This is what we call the Twelve Heavens in Māoridom. But for the Tohunga, these heavens do exist and are experienced by only the initiated.

The overall form of this carving depicts the newly graduated Priest, holding his Tiki Wānanga. Everything within the sculpture has meaning and purpose, from the gouged patterns on the legs, and back, to the Pūhoro designs.

The gouged patterns of the back and legs represent Te Ira Atua, Te Ira Tangata. It is a merging and balancing of two energy streams, the merging of spirit and matter, male and female, Heaven and Earth. The message here is the joining of two dualities.

The Pūhoro design symbolises one's journey through understanding, or a searching for purpose and identity. This pattern was selected as an example of the many paths travelled by Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga. The name itself translates to the acquiring of knowledge, so within these stories of our great Polynesian hero, lies inherited in all humanity the acquisition of knowing the unknowable.