Matatoki: Mata ā Waka is the first exhibition to open Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga’s 2020 programme celebrating Mana Moana – Mana Tauranga.
This exhibition brings together internationally-recognised, contemporary Māori carvers who work under the collective ‘Matatoki’ (meaning ‘the blade of the adze, the cutting edge’). The initial core group came together in the mid 1990’s while involved with Waiariki Institute of Technology and New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua. Subsequently, their carving has been highly sought after by international collectors, much of which has not been seen by local audiences. They first exhibited together at Rotorua Museum in 2013 which then toured to the Dowse Art Museum.
Mata ā Waka features works by 16 carvers from around Aotearoa including Lewis Tamihana Gardiner, Ian-Wayne Reihana Grant, Simon Lardelli, Todd Couper, Fayne Robinson and Iwi Le Comte. Le Comte recently won the 2019 Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award with his work Te Ipukarea. The theme for Mata ā Waka addresses long traditions of waka carving, te moana (the ocean), voyaging, vessels, navigation and new forms melding these traditions.
Alongside these contemporary works are taonga tūturu (historical objects) from the Tauranga Heritage Collection reflecting traditional artworks that relate to the theme. Included amongst these is a 700-year-old tīheru (bailer), a tauihu (prow), a selection of hoe (paddles), toki (adze blades), punga (anchor-stones) and a waka tīwai (plain dug-out canoe).
The works display the current strength of carving in Aotearoa New Zealand as an artform, while acknowledging the history, utility and warfare of previous generations. With great reverence and mana, Matatoki: Mata ā Waka honours traditions while challenging conventions and re-conceiving traditional forms.
Artists include Dan Couper, Mike Green, Jason Hina, Tracy Keith, Rakei Kingi, Joel Marsters, Charles Paringatai, Thomas Ratima, Hemi Sungren and Kereama Taepa.