“Te Pae o Maumahara, directly translated ‘The Site of Memories’, is a traditionally woven work, made from a mix of contemporary and natural materials. I began weaving this Kakahu (cloak) when the COVID-19 isolation period started, in loving memory of a highly respected elder in our Maori community, who sadly passed away during this time.
It is an expression of my grief and my love. I embedded these emotions through traditional Maori symbols and patterns which are featured throughout the piece.
From the silver and grey finely woven pattern at the top and bottom ‘Niho Taniwha’ symbolises family unity and guardianship. The colours also represent our beloved community elders, our cultural knowledge holders.
The crosses known as Māwhitiwhiti are utilised to keep count of the pattern. They are also placed within the rectangular shapes which represent ‘Roimata Toroa’- the tears of the albatross. Further embedding the sadness and acknowledgement of my aroha (love) and reverence.
The white feathers strategically spread throughout, represent whetū- the stars in the sky as we lead into Matariki – The Māori New year.
Finally, at the ends of Te Pae o Maumahara, the grey and black feathers are attached curving outwards- likened to our elders hair.
Te Pae o Maumahara is presented upside down and incomplete, expressing the emotions of having our worlds turned upside down. While stuck in isolation, not being able to physically be present to mourn and grieve with our families and community.
With the loss of our elders both here in Victoria and New Zealand (Aotearoa). We as a community have been forced to mourn from home. To engage in and watch the funerals of our loved ones through live streams and digital platforms like Zoom. In a short span of time we have had to learn to adapt to a very different world – culturally speaking it is something that would normally be very controversial.
Unpacking, negotiating and reimagining how we navigate and practice our cultural protocols, ceremonies and rituals during these times for me has been extremely difficult.
You would not normally see a Kākahu presented upside down. Unless it is still a work in progress, as is this process of change.
My weaving practice and creations are an embodiment of all that I am and all that I treasure. Every piece I create is woven with love, with mana, intent, story and purpose.
My works explore notions of creative maintenance, cultural connection and transmission, community wairua (spirit) and navigating uncertainty. Drawing on a topics, such as; hearts open, reimagining home and adaptation.”
Te Pae o Maumahara by Tāne Te Manu McRoberts is created for Shelter 2020.