The Design Process

Planning the patterns for nineteen different panels was an enormous but rewarding task. Despite her years of experience, tutor Mae Taurua stood back to give the newcomers a free hand. Because the panels were to go in a Māori resource area, it seemed appropriate that the designs should provide another form of resource. It was decided to use conventional materials, a colour palette of earthy tones and to incorporate a variety of traditional designs.

Planning started by researching many sources as possible. Inspiration came from whare nui (meeting houses) and their dining halls (whare kai) and churches around the country such as Te Hau Ki Turanga at Te Papa, Te Hono Ki Rarotonga and Hine-Matikotai of Pakirkiri Marae, Te Whatu-Manawa Maoritangi O Rehua at Rehua Marae, Aoraki at Ngā Hau E Whā National Marae, St Faiths of Ohinemutu, the church at Putiki, the chapel and hospital of Gisborne Hospital, the chapel and the old hostel of Te Wai Pounamu College, and from a range of published sources.

Variations of traditional patterns that would show the creativity and diversity of the art form were chosen, with no two panels to be the same. The major patterns that allowed this development were poutama, the stepped pattern of Ngāti Porou; roimata, the pattern based on the legend of albatross tears; kaokao, the patterns of ribs or arms of warriors; niho taniwha, the water-monster's tooth; pātikitiki, based on the flounder; and mumu, the rectangular design from the Whanganui region. Other traditional designs included waharua, the double mouth; and purapura whetu, the star seeding pattern. A special design incorporating the mountain Aoraki was created to acknowledge the tangata whenua, Ngāi Tahu.

The designs were planned on Excel spread sheets, which allowed the patterns to be centred and balanced. This system enabled the adjustment of the number of kakaho to provide even or uneven numbers as each design required, and facilitated planning the use of colours.


This page reproduces information from page 11 and 12 of the booklet Pūawaitanga o te Ringa - Fruits of our busy hands

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