Nga Whakairo Tupuna
Public Art : Nga Whakairo Tupuna
Master Carver (tohunga whakairo) : © Tene Waitere
Description : Bright red Maori carvings
Location : The ancestral carvings can be found near
the Prince's Gate Archway at the Hinemoa and Arawa Street entrances of the
Government Gardens, Rotorua, New Zealand.
Date Unveiled : The Ancestral carvings were unveiled
Sign Inscription :
Nga Whakairo Tupuna (Ancestral Carvings) at the Hinemoa and Arawa Street entrances to the gardens.
The totara carvings that greet you as you enter the Government Gardens were presented by the people of
Ngati Whakaue to
commemorate their original gift of this land in 1880 'hei oranga mo nga iwi katoa o te ao- for the
benefit of the people
of the world' Created by tohunga whakairo (master carver) Tene Waitere in 1907, they depict koromatua
and act as kaitaki (guardians) of the area. They were restored in 1997.
Trivia : Tene Waitere was trained as a carver by Wero
Taroi, the master carver of the Ngati Tarawhai school.
Tene's mother Ani Pape, who was the daughter of a prominent Ngati Tarawhai leader, was captured
during the Nga Puhi attack on Rotorua in 1823 and taken as a slave to Auckland where she was forced to marry
Tene was trained as a carver by Wero Taroi, the master carver of the Ngati Tarawhai school.
Tene and his family survived the 1886 Tarawera volanic eruption which buried their Maori village of
Te Wairoa by sheltering in the famous carved house, Hinemihi.