Focusing on 30 meeting houses, Ngarino Ellis tells the story of Ngāti Porou carving and a profound transformation in Māori art.
Ellis, N. A Whakapapa of Tradition: One Hundred Years of Ngāti Porou Carving. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2016.
A Whakapapa of Tradition (2016), highlights the depth of possibilities evident in Māori art history. Focusing on 30 meeting houses, Dr Ngarino Ellis (Ngāti Porou and Ngā Puhi), tells the story of Ngāti Porou carving and a profound transformation in Māori art. Ellis’ research focuses on the Iwirakau school of carving based in the Waiapu valley and explores how Ngāti Porou art and architecture underwent ‘radical’ change in the century from 1830-1930. Ellis argues that during this time Māori art in Ngāti Porou territory underwent a radical transformation, in which the dominant forms of waka taua (war canoes), pātaka (decorated storehouses), and whare rangatira (chief’s houses), were replaced by whare karakia (churches), whare whakairo (meeting houses), and wharekai (dining halls).
A Whakapapa of Tradition is both a major study of Ngāti Porou carving and an attempt to make sense of Māori art history. What makes a tradition in Māori art? How do traditions begin? Who decides this? Conversely, how and why do traditions cease? And what forces are at play which make some buildings acceptable and others not? Beautifully illustrated with new photography by Natalie Robertson, and drawing on the work of key scholars to make a new synthetic whole, this book is an important contribution in the history of writing about Māori art.
This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.