Rei Puta Manaia Pakohe, Te TauIhu Taonga
The Rei Puta is a traditional Māori Taonga of a sperm whale's tooth, split down the middle and carved. Whales are sacred in Māori culture, as they are the descendants of Tangaroa.
For this Taonga, Lewis used a dark grey (marutea) Pakohe and has incorporated the Manaia design.The Manaia is usually depicted as having the head of a bird, the tail of a fish and he body of a man. It is considered to act as a guardian for the wearer. The notching on the right side of this Taonga represent the wearers ancestors.
This piece represents a kaitiaki (protector) of the sea and a connection to the ocean and Tangaroa
This piece is made of Pakohe, Argillite. Pakohe is known as the ancestor of Pounamu (greenstone), and was used as a tool far before Pounamu was discovered by Māori.
Earliest Māori communities recognised Pakohe's superior qualities of hardness, strength, and ability to hold a sharpened edge, ideal for making tools and weapons.
This material was also used as a trading token, its value due to it's useful nature. This is why pieces can be found throughout Aotearoa.
Pakohe is particularly associated with Te Tau Ihu, the Top of the South, which includes Nelson, the Marlborough Sounds and sunny Blenheim.
Pakohe is found on Rangitoto (D'Urville Island), and in the upper reaches of the Maitai, Wairoa and Motueka Rivers.
The material for this particular piece was sourced from Te Hoiere, Maud Island in the Marlborough sounds and carved in Blenheim by Te Tau Ihu Taonga - Treasures from the top of the south.
Te TauIhu Taonga
Lewis is a Māori Carver of Ngati Kuia, Ngati Apa Ki Te Ra To,and Ngai Tahu decent. He draws inspiration and ideas from his evolving knowledge of the rich history here in Te Tauihu, "Moa Hunter" Archaeological sites, and his whakapapa.
Lewis' main inspiration is his Tipuna, tangata whenua of te tauihu, and their tools and art.
He also draws inspiration from his granddad Selwyn Hugh Smith. Selwyn lived in Whakakitenga bay, in the Croisilles strait. This was the place where Lewis’s Tupuna lived, they made tools from Pakhoe and used them to carve their waka. Selwyn also collected Pakohe and it was the discovery of his grandfather's collection that sparked Lewis' interest in the world of stone used by his ancestors.
All the Taonga Lewis creates are one off pieces, created from locally sourced Pakohe, which he and his family collect.