matahiwi, hastings, te ahi tapu

posted by Michele

It was a big weekend, for everyone. Jack Ross has written about it here. Hawke’s Bay Today profiled the occasion and the local high school readers who were part of the 14-strong line-up for I Say Te Mata at the Hastings Opera House. Poets and librarians ate for free at Havelock’s Pipi Café (thanks guys). And Rowley Habib read his epic poem The Raw Men for video before we left on Sunday morning.

At the heart of it all were the two tokotoko made by Jacob Scott and presented by Ngati Kahungunu to the National Library. One of them, the matua tokotoko, is carved from black maire and lasered with designs that tell interrelated stories of sacred fire-making (te ahi tapu). It also contains literal means of making fire if you unscrew it and apply one part (hika) to a special groove (kaunoti) in the other. Jacob says he tested it there on the banks of the Tukituki; it works.

This stick, with its abalone and paua insets, has gone to Wellington and will be displayed in the National Library. Laureates will use it there, and everyone who picks it up should be able to feel its mana. It also commemorates the passing of Jacob Scott’s good friend Hone Tuwhare: deep in its interior is a Tuwhare poem.

The second tokotoko (and the seventh Jacob has made) is the one I will keep and treasure. It’s sky-blue, with laser-etched white-on-blue designs towards the top end surmounted by chased silver that references flames. Because it’s a converted pool cue, it also comes apart in four pieces which means I can take it travelling without setting off major security alerts in airports. There is plenty of tactile surface and it was fun watching people run their fingers over it, exploring and connecting up the design elements. Its stories have just begun.

It was a big weekend, for everyone. But perhaps the biggest thing of all was the gift of Jacob Scott’s deeply thought-out representations of creative process: serious, sparky, a challenge to make more fire. Thank you Jacob; it’s a lot to live up to.

  • Hawke’s Bay photos coming soon
  • More about the tokotoko
  • Hawke’s Bay Today laureate event profile 23 Feb 2008

1 comment:

Jo Morris said...

I agree, Michelle, it was a great evening. I'd like to send you a couple of photos of you, and of all the poets, with the students. How might I do that? (Please excuse my ignorance if I could have attached them to this...)