Resource Spotlight | Werner Forman Archive | New Zealand: Maori Arts and Civilization

 

Central fragment of a house lintel or pare. The central figure represents the ancestry of the chief, while the profile figures, and bird-like manaia, represent the supernatural world. East Cape region. Circa 1800. | Inv. #: 55404970
© Werner Forman Archive / National Museum Of New Zealand, Wellington

 
 
 

This presentation is dedicated to the memory of Werner Forman and reflects his deep affection for New Zealand, Aeoteroa, 'the land on the long white cloud.' A number of iconic pieces and images reflected through his lens memorialize the resounding genius of the Maori people and their art. We are grateful to the Werner Forman Archive for sharing his legacy with our Art of the Ancestors audience.

Werner lovingly recorded a number of masterpieces that are housed in New Zealand's remarkable museum system, as well as stellar works from private collections, and superb pieces on behalf of Lance Entwistle, a luminary in the world of situating beautiful and meaningful art. 

While my own journey with Indonesian art is an enduring affair, a half a century ago, I was breathlessly first exposed to the arts of the Pacific as a student in New Zealand. There, I met my first 'tohunga' and Maori friend, the late master carver, John (Hone Te Kauru) Taiapa.  In his hands, and those of his predecessors was real mana: the authority and prestige — and presence that is manifest and felt from within all great Maori creations.

It was a great fortune to have had teachers such as John, Dr. Kuia Meremere Penfold, and Dr. Sydney Moko Mead, and to have been richly befriended by knowledgable persons such as the late ethnologist, David Simmons, and Dr. Roger Neich, titans all.

Whakawhetai ki aku kaiako... 

— Steven G. Alpert

 
 

Werner Forman Archive

 

Werner Forman's life work was devoted to documenting in photographs the history, art, religion and customs of the great civilizations and tribal societies of the past. The archive has extensive collections of photographs of archaeological sites, architecture, evocative landscapes and art from the great museum and private collections of the world.

© Werner Forman Archive

© Werner Forman Archive

 
 
 

Selections from Werner Forman Archive

New Zealand: Maori Art and Civilization

 
 

Ngapuhi tribe burial chest. In the Northland region of the North island of New Zealand the bodies of important persons were exposed on platforms after death until the flesh had rotted away. Then the bones were cleaned, painted with red ochre and placed in a burial chest known as a waka tupapaku, (lit. the conveyance of one's canoe) before being placed inside of a cave. | Pre 1800. | Inv. #: 55405052
© Werner Forman Archive / National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

In the Northland region of the North Island of New Zealand secondary burial was practiced First, bodies of important persons people were exposed on a platform after death until the flesh had rotted away. Then the bones were cleaned, painted with red ochre, and placed in a burial chest known as a waka tupapaku (lit. the conveyance of one's canoe) before being placed inside of a cave. This small coffin may have held the bones of a high-ranking child. | Circa 1500 | Inv. #: 55405050
© Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

Post in which Uenukutuwhata, the rainbow and war god of the Waikato tribes, dwelt when addressed by tribal chiefs and priests. A separate smaller image served to house the god in battles. The prongs may represent the rainbow. Lake Ngaroto. | Circa 1400 | Inv. #: 55405042
© Werner Forman Archive / Te Awamutu Museum

A fine early canoe figurehead. | Tauhiu, Long Beach, Otago area. | 17th - 18th century | Inv. #: 55405013
© Werner Forman Archive / Otago Museum, Dunedin

A tauihu or war canoe prow carved by Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake, chief of the Te Ati Awa. The prow is thought to represent the separation of the Earth Mother, Papa, from the Sky Father, Rangi. The spirals represent light and knowledge coming into the world. Country of Origin: Taranaki. | Early 19th century. | Inv. #: 55405012
© Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

A bird-shaped okewa or stone club from the Chatham Islands which lie 500 miles to the east of New Zealand's South Island. The Moriori people of the Chathams retained attributes of archaic Maori culture long after it had disappeared from the mainland. | Inv. #: 55404996
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

An early pair of archaic chevron pendants made from whale ivory that are thought to date from the fourteenth century. Aniseed, Kaikoura, north-eastern South Island. | Inv. #: 55405029
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

A rei puta, a rare type of whale ivory pendant that was worn in the eighteenth century, North Island. | Inv. #: 55405033
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

Hei matau (fish hook) pendant made of nephrite jade that was given by a Ngapuhi Maori chief to a British captain in 1834. It combines the shape of a fish hook with that of a tiki figure. | 19th century | Inv. #: 55406968
© Werner Forman Archive / British Museum, London

A tokipoutangata, or ceremonial chief's hafted adze that was used to invoke the gods while making the first ceremonial cuts on wood intended for a house carving or canoe. The adze's handle was a prominent symbol of each senior chief, generally being buried with him, while the heirloom nephrite jade blade was passed down. It would then be fitted with a new handle by its' inheritor. | 19th century | Inv. #: 55406951
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand Wellington

A tokipoutangata, or ceremonial chief's hafted adze that was used to invoke the gods while making the first ceremonial cuts on wood intended for a house carving or canoe. The adze's handle was a prominent symbol of each senior chief, generally being buried with him, while the heirloom nephrite jade blade was passed down. It would then be fitted with a new handle by its' inheritor. | 19th century | Inv. #: 55404988
© Werner Forman Archive / National Museum of New Zealand Wellington

A partially cut out adze blade for a tokipoutangata, or chief's ceremonial axe, from nephrite jade. | 19th century | Inv. #: 55405008
© Werner Forman Archive/ Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Putorino, or flute trumpet carved with three aggressive faces. It may be played as a flute by blowing across the top, or used as a trumpet, but has only one note, modified by closing the centre hole. Putorino were used to signal the return of a chief to the village or to accompany lyrically sung poems from the Maori's rich oratorical traditions. | 18th - 19th century | Inv. #: 55406972
© Werner Forman Archive / Courtesy of Entwistle Gallery, London.

Central fragment of a house lintel or pare. The central figure represents the ancestry of the chief, while the profile figures, and bird-like manaia, represent the supernatural world. East Cape region. Circa 1800. | Inv. #: 55404970
© Werner Forman Archive / National Museum Of New Zealand, Wellington

Carved wooden human figure with inlaid metal eyes and human hair. Although it is probably a depiction of a recent ancestor it's precise function is unknown. | Pre-1820. | Inv. #: 55407000
© Werner Forman Archive / Courtesy of Entwistle Gallery, London.

Te Hau-Ki-Turanga meeting house, built by the Ngati Kaipoho tribe in 1842. Entrance doorway flanked by the main supporting post and, at the far side, a self-portrait of the chief carver Raharuhi Rukupo. Manutuke. | Inv. #: 55404950
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

A oval-lidded wooden box with scrolling on the sides and a carved male and female heads as suspension lugs at each end. | Late 19th - Early 20th century | Inv. #: 55405060
© Werner Forman Archive / Napier Museum, New Zealand

Small ornamented box of a type that was used either to hold tinder to rekindle the village chief's sacred fire, ahi taitai, or to store tattoo pigment. | 18th - 19th century. | Inv. #: 55406984
© Werner Forman Archive / Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin

Maori bone nose-flute decorated with a copulating couple. | 18th century | Inv. #: 65411290
© Werner Forman Archive / Friede Collection, New York

Figure from a village gateway or stockade (pa) at Te Ngae. It represents a chief of the Ngati Whakaue tribe named Pukaki, with his two sons. His facial and body tattoos are in the spiral style typical of the Arawa peoples, Lake Rotorua. | Early 19th century | Inv. #: 55404974 © Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

Figure from a village gateway or stockade (pa) at Te Ngae. It represents a chief of the Ngati Whakaue tribe named Pukaki, with his two sons. His facial and body tattoos are in the spiral style typical of the Arawa peoples, Lake Rotorua. | Early 19th century | Inv. #: 55404974
© Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

Bone pekapeka or two-headed breast ornament. Wellington area. | Circa 1850. | Inv. #: 55405028
© Werner Forman Archive / Maori and Pioneer Museum, Okains Bay

A fine late example of a house lintel carved with stone tools in the Ngati Tamatera style. The carving represents the separation of the primordial couple Rangi, the Sky Father, and Papa, the Earth Mother. Hauraki. | Circa 1850. | Inv. #: 55404969
© Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

A prestigious kaitaka cloak made of softly beaten flax fibers. The tapestry border serves as a weight to pull the cloak into a comely draped shape when worn. Production of this type of cloak ceased around 1835. Taranaki. | Early 19th Century | Inv. #: 55424784
© Werner Forman Archive / Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Te Hau-Ki-Turanga meeting house, built by the Ngati Kaipoho tribe in 1842. This detail is the portrait figure of Raharuhi Rukupo, the chief responsible for organizing and directing the carving of this famous meeting house. The unique arrangement of each moko or tattoo allowed the subjects of a portrait sculpture to be identified. Manutuke. | Inv. #: 55404955
© Werner Forman Archive/ National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

A carved wooden end panel from a storehouse. The storehouse or pataka was a richly decorated repositary for a chief's food supply, his weapons and ceremonial regalia, all of which were charged with hismana or spiritual power, and thus had to be concealed from general view. Bay of Plenty/Rotorua area. | 19th century | Inv. #: 55406937
© Werner Forman Archive/Courtesy Entwistle Gallery, London

Figure surmounting the arched doorway of a storehouse (kuwaha pataka) which served as a symbolic of the gateway to the underworld. East Cape. | Early 19th century. | Inv. #: 55404960
© Werner Forman Archive/ Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin

Te Oha, pataka or storehouse, carved by Manawa, chief of the Ngati Pikiao at Waeranga along the shores of Lake Rotorua. The alternation of humans and bird-like manaia on the sideboards are said to represent humanity in the twilight of the present between the future and the past in which man's struggle with life and death is recalled. Waeranga. | Circa 1820. | Inv. #: ab78e071
© Werner Forman Archive / Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Detail of an ornamental bargeboard from the Te Potaka storehouse. With the doorway it was hidden in a sea cave to protect it from enemy raids early in the nineteenth century and not rediscovered until 1912. Maraenui. | Circa 1780. | Inv. #: 55406944
© Werner Forman Archive/ Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland

 

An elderly Maori woman, reputed to be the last survivor sporting a traditional moko kauae or female chin tattoo. | 1980s | Inv. #: 55407012
© Werner Forman Archive

Mount Egmont from Lake Wangamahoe. Normally covered in clouds, this famous volcano is the subject of many Maori myths, some of which tell of its love for the female volcano, Ruapehu. Lake Wangamahoe, North Island. | Inv. #: 55405086
© Werner Forman Archive

Kaingaroa caves. On the wall are petroglyphs depicting canoes at sea. Thought to be some 700 years old, they may depict the "Great Fleet" migrations which bought the Maori to New Zealand. At the base of the wall is a discarded Maori canoe. Country of Origin: New Zealand. Culture: Maori. Place of Origin: Kaingaroa Forest. | Inv. #: 55405105
© Werner Forman Archive

Milford Sound on the west coast of South Island. Mountains overlooking the Sound. Country of Origin: New Zealand. Place of Origin: South Island. | Inv. #: 11715111
© Werner Forman Archive

Mount Egmont as seen from Lake Wangamahoe. Normally covered in clouds, the great volcano is the subject of many Maori myths, some of which that tell the story Mt. Egmont's love for the female volcano, Ruapehu. Lake Wangamahoe, North Island. | Inv. #: 55405085
© Werner Forman Archive

A Maori man wearing traditional dress and a hei-tiki pendant. | 1980's | Inv. #: 55425243
© Werner Forman Archive

Mount Cook. Country of Origin: New Zealand. Place of Origin: South Island. | Inv. #: 11715113
© Werner Forman Archive

Kumara stone fertility god statue, said to have been brought from the legendary Maori homeland of Hawaiki in the ancestral Arawa canoe. Country of Origin: New Zealand. Culture: Maori. Place of Origin: Place of Origin: Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua. | Inv. #: 55405108
© Werner Forman Archive