Hooked on Matariki

Press Release – New Zealand Post

Traditional and contemporary ’Hei matau’ (fish hooks) are the theme of New Zealand Post’s 2011 Matariki stamp issue. The stamps are being issued tomorrow as part of an annual series that celebrates the Māori New Year. Hooked on Matariki

31 May 2011

Traditional and contemporary ’Hei matau’ (fish hooks) are the theme of New Zealand Post’s 2011 Matariki stamp issue. The stamps are being issued tomorrow as part of an annual series that celebrates the Māori New Year.

The matau, once used for catching fish are today more commonly worn as pendants, but remain a cultural treasure with important links to the origins of New Zealand. According to Māori legend, the North Island was once a giant fish that was caught by the half-god and\seafarer Māui, using his matau.

The issue, which includes six stamps, has been developed by New Zealand Post in collaboration with, cultural organisations, specialist designers and artists, including Len Hetet (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Apa) and Lewis Gardiner (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāi Tahu).

Mr Gardiner was specially commissioned by New Zealand Post to create a greenstone (pounamu) hei matau, which features on one of the 60c stamps in the issue. This modern hei matau represents strength, abundance and provision.

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, Te Puia, also crafted a contemporary hei matau specifically for this stamp issue, which appears on the $1.90 stamp. This piece is based on the traditional pā kahawai, made from multiple materials lashed together.

The other 60c stamp, the $1.20 stamp, and the $2.90 stamp all feature traditional hei matau that date back to 1500 – 1850. These hei matau are currently housed in the collections at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The $2.40 stamp showcases a hei matau made from native timber and dates back to around 1800. This piece is held in the collections at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Tamaki Paenga Hira.

ENDS

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