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Couple share Te Waka Toi Award

Creative New Zealand  |9 Sep . 1997

Hinemoa Harrison and Dr Pakariki Harrison are the 1997 recipients of the annual $25,000 Te Waka Toi Award, presented at a ceremony on the Harataunga Marae at Kennedy's Bay on November 8.

Sponsored by Te Waka Toi, the Maori arts board of Creative New Zealand, the award was established in 1995 to recognise outstanding leadership and service to the Maori arts.

Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis said the husband and wife team of Hinemoa and Pakariki have worked together for many years, committed to both preserving and developing raranga and whakairo.

"Hinemoa and Pakariki are exceptional artists and this award recognises their wisdom, leadership and artistry," she said. "As well as working in many marae and institutions, they have also passed on their knowledge and love of their art to others."

Hinemoa (Ngapuhi, Te Arawa - Ngati Whakaue, Taranaki - Ngati Ruanui) grew up in Mangamuka in the Hokianga where she met and married Pakariki in 1952. She took up weaving 18 years ago when Pakariki was carving Te Poho o Tipene at St Stephen's College in Auckland. Under the tuition of weaver Una Marino, she worked on the college's tukutuku panels.

"This first experience of weaving was very positive," Hinemoa said. "Weaving really attracted me and I loved working with the natural materials, kiekie and kakaho, forming and combining patterns.

"Later, I began to experiment by adding feathers to the tukutuku and flax fibre, and using different stitches and patterns. Weaving is something you never stop learning about."

Regarded as the leading tohunga and keeper of wananga of carving, Pakariki (Ngati Porou) was the eldest of 21 children and grew up in Ruatoria. Carving had been in the family for generations and he was carving by the time he was 10.

"I've been learning carving for 50 years - and I'm still learning," Pakariki said. "Not only the techniques but also what it means to our people; the chants and korero, everything that goes with it.

"Lecturing at the University of Auckland in the 1980s helped me gather more knowledge and bring things into focus."

In 1991, Pakariki was conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Auckland.

Back in the 1960s, however, he was a young school teacher working in Auckland and teaching carving at night classes. He was also working on a book about carving.

"I wrote to the Arts Council for a grant to help publish the book but instead, they sent me to France to do a series of lectures on carving," Pakariki said. "When I came back, I was asked to carve the meeting house on Whaiora Marae in Otara. I took leave of absence from teaching and completed the house in 1975."

That was the end of Pakariki's career as a school teacher. Since then, he has carved many marae and institutions including Otawhao Marae and the carving school at Aotearoa Institute in Te Awamutu, Tane nui a Rangi at Auckland University and Harataunga Marae.

While Pakariki leads the carving of a house, Hinemoa develops its tukutuku and weaving. They also run workshops so that local Maori can become more involved in the furnishing of their whare tupuna.

Hinemoa learned the art of korowai making from Diggeress Te Kanawa while she and Pakariki were worked together on Otawhao Marae. She completed her first korowai for Pakariki and then made another for the vice-chancellor of Auckland University.

The couple's work on marae often involves their whanau. Most of their children are artists - whether they carve wood, bone or pounamu; or make taniko, tukutuku, kete or piupiu.

One of the Harrisons' daughters, Caroline, paid tribute to her parents. "Both of them are just so humble and they are such hard workers. They welcome everyone, and have spent their lives working with people and passing on their knowledge."

Hinemoa and Pakariki have both exhibited their work overseas and in November, they travelled to Seattle to take part in the Pacific Voices exhibition at the Burke Museum. Hinemoa exhibited two tukutuku panels and Pakariki exhibited three of his carvings.

Life may be busy but the Harrisons still have time for their mokopuna.

"The little ones are around all day," Hinemoa said. "They help me pull the kiekie through and in the process they're learning too."

Elizabeth Ellis described Hinemoa and Pakariki as "a winning team".

"Their lives have revolved around whanau, and service to their art and culture," she said. "Te Waka Toi is delighted to be able to recognise the significant contribution they have made to Maori arts and to the arts of Aotearoa New Zealand."

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