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Tanu Aumua

Events > Exhibitions

Tanu Aumua
at Zimmerman Art Gallery
1 Nov 2011 - 30 Nov 2011

Added by Zimmerman Born and raised in Palmerston North, Tanu Aumua is an art teacher at Hato Paora College. Currently on leave to complete his Master of Maori Visual Arts, Tanu’s works express concern for the health and future of the Maori language. The charcoal works currently featured at ZIMMERMAN, a grand 1.6m x 1.177m in size, give visual form to selected metaphors and whakatauki (Maori proverbs). The works are sombre warnings of the need to preserve te reo Maori, a national taonga, and to not be complacent about correct pronunciation. The first work exhibited references a Maori proverb about language fluency. “Koko tataki” refers to a clever or witty speaker. Being fluent in te reo Maori is not just about being competent, but also having the ability to be creative and innovative with the language. The artist has entitled this work Kotuku. Kotuku, the white heron, refers to a distinguished person (someone who only rarely visits). Its use in the title of this work refers to experts in te reo Maori, and the need for those experts to pass on their knowledge and understanding to future generations. The second work pictured, rendered in English, revisits a saying coined by Moana Jackson in an article about the Treaty of Waitangi. The phrase is a reminder that, in some circumstances, words have greater power than actions. The title of the work is Tirairaka, a dialectal name for the fantail. When the demi-god Maui attempted to reverse mortality by entering Hine-nui-te-po (deity of night and death), the fantail tittered. This vocalization alerted the deity to her intruder, resulting in Maui’s death. The final work pictured reflects a whakatauki (Maori proverb) about the power of words. Mispronunciation of Maori words can lead to different meanings, making the spoken words offensive or harsh to the Maori ear. While bi-culturalism promotes the use of Maori greetings and names, speakers should take care to use correct pronunciations. The title of the work is Kaka (parrot), a bird that has a loud, harsh call. Kaka is also a derogatory term, used to refer to people who gossip or are overly talkative. Whether communicated in English or te reo Maori, the messages in these works are intended to speak to us all.
2.tirairaka 3.kaka

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