The Wheku (gable mask) sits below the teko teko (standing figure) on the top of a whare-nui (meeting house). The mask can be related to an important ancestor of the house or be symbolic of a story relating to the origins of carving. The first meeting house on earth was in the realm of the sea god, Tangaroa. When a young man named Manu did not follow the correct protocol before fishing with a magical fish hook made by his father, Tangaroa went on the land and stole him, and placed him on the gable of his house under the sea. This house under the sea was said to be fully carved and thus the origin of Maori carving. The carvings on the top of the house overlook the courtyard in front, and therefore observe who comes before the house. A Wheku in your home can be seen to have a guardian role, with a tongue thrust out to challenge whoever enters a room or dwelling.
Timber: NZ Totara Dimensions: 125x210mm
Thomas Hansen, Tauranga Moana
Carving and art have been a constant theme throughout Thomas' life. Thomas has had several exhibitions over the years and now after 16 years of exploring various styles is creating traditional and contemporary carvings for museums and galleries throughout NZ.
"All things have a 'mauri' (life force). I try to identify with it, and then recreate its presence in my work."