Aratoi: Wairarapa Moana events start on Waitangi Day

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Local artists from Ngati Hinewaka (Palliser Bay) will be demonstrating the use of traditional stone adzes at on Sunday 6 February (Waitangi Day), in the first of a series of free public events being rolled out to accompany the major social history exhibition Wairarapa Moana.

People will see the artists working on stone and wood, with adzes that have been handmade in the traditional way, says the exhibitions curator Maori, Haami Te Whaiti, who has devised the series of around 20 free events.

The artists will be working again later in the day at Queen Elizabeth Park Cricket Oval, Masterton, as part of the Waitangi Day Wairarapa Origins Festival.

The adzes are mainly argillite, the best material for these tools next to pounamu, says Te Whaiti. The artists gained their skills from working on a replica of a 16th century Wairarapa sleeping house or wharepuni. The replica whare, made from totara posts, raup? and n?kau palm fronds, was built at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 1997 by Ngati Hinewaka members. Stone adzes were also traditionally used to construct waka.

Other events in the Wairarapa Moana series are themed around the Treaty of Waitangi and the environmental aspects of Wairarapa Moana. An education programme will be launched in early February.

WAIRARAPA MOANA is one of the largest and most ambitious exhibitions ever presented at Aratoi. It explores the rich and sometimes turbulent history of the Lake the largest lake and wetland area in the lower North Island. Historic photographs, paintings, taonga, and film trace its journey from abundant traditional food basket for local Maori, to being the focus of conflict between local iwi and European settlers from the 1850s onwards. The Lake is recognized as an internationally significant but threatened wildlife habitat today.

We want every child in Wairarapa to know the story of the Lake so we can return it to the state it once was teaming with life and energy, says Haami Te Whaiti.

Stone adze demonstration: Sunday 6 Feb (Waitangi Day), Aratoi, 11am-1pm; and at Queen Elizabeth Park Cricket Oval, Masterton, 3pm-6pm. For more information on the Wairarapa Moana events and education programmes go to www.aratoi.co.nz

WAIRARAPA MOANA: He pataka kai, He pataka korero Stories about a lake and its people
6 November 2010 7 May 2011
Open daily 10am-4.30pm; www.aratoi.co.nz

Aratoi acknowledges the generous sponsorship of Wairarapa Moana; Eastern & Central Community Trust, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa; Masterton Trust Lands Trust, McAuleys Transport Ltd, Newbolds 100% Electrical, Masterton; and Technology Solutions. WAIRARAPA MOANA is generously supported by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Department of Conservation, Whanganui Regional Museum, National Library of New Zealand, The Sign Factory, Henley Mens Shed, Loader Construction Engineering Ltd, Rangitane o Wairarapa, Rigg-Zschokke, Ornament, and The Village Art Shop.

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