Te Haa o Te Ao 2022-2024

Te Haa o Te Ao 2022-2024
Te Haa o Te Ao
New Zealand

“Te Haa o Te Ao,” literally translates to “The Breath of our World” is a kinetic sculpture made in engagement with mana whēnua, Ngāti Rēhia, and is a living tribute to the relationship between Tangata (People) and the Taiao (Environment).
Commissioned to recognise the Kaitiakitanga (Guardianship) of Ngāti Rēhia over their lands, the sculpture is a testament to the commitment to preserving the environment. The collaboration between the artist and the Kaitiaki underscores the importance of unity in addressing global environmental challenges.

The sculpture features 120* Kōhatu (Boulders) suspended from a central Pou (Pole), representing the delicate balance of our Taiao. The Kōhatu attached by wire symbolises traditional Poi, once used as weapons, adding a layer of cultural history to the artwork. Atop the sculpture, are the heads of three Kaitiaki (Guardian) native Manu (Birds) created by Tom Hei Hei of Ngāti Rēhia. The Kāhu (Hawk) facing the visitor, Tūī (Parson bird) facing the forest and the Kāwau (Shag) facing the estuary. A unique aspect of this artwork is the involvement of local school students in its operation. A mechanical winch is used to adjust the sculpture’s movement, symbolically reflecting our environmental progress or setbacks. This interactive element adds a layer of community engagement and education, emphasising the role of the younger generation in shaping and protecting our ecological future. Situated at the entrance to Te Kerikeri, “Te Haa O Te Ao” invites visitors to reflect on their relationship with Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) and encourages a deeper understanding of the role each individual plays in environmental conservation.
As a piece of public art, it not only beautifies the space but also conveys a powerful message about the significance of sustainability and the need for action in the face of climate change.

The carved stone sign is created by Tom Hei Hei, Ngāti Rēhia sculptor. He also created the Manu (Birds) at the apex of Te Haa o Te Ao. The brief from the Chairperson of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia, Kipa Munro, was to ensure that the sign included Tohu (Symbols) that represent not only Ngāti Rēhia but coastal hapū. These representations have been included in the welcome sign by: Mangōpare – Hammerhead shark (woven through the words on the front) Mangō/Mako – Shark (rear) Whai – Stingray (rear) Ngāti Rēhia consider these to be Kaitiaki – Guardians. The two carved crystalline sandstone slabs are from Paradise Quarry in our district of Te Tai Tokerau. The three andesite boulders are from the district of Taumarunui and were gifted by Pukehou Quarry through Kaumātua (Elder) Peter Hollis of the Iwi of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. The customary dedication of the sign and Te Haa o Te Ao was carried out by Kipa Munro, Chairperson, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia with support of Kuia, Nora Rameka, spokesperson for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the hapū of Ngāti Rēhia and members of the public on the 1st December 2023

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