17 Dec 2012

26 tonne mahau to feature at festival

6:37 am on 17 December 2012

The national kapa haka competition, which is being held in Rotorua in February, will feature what may be the largest carving ever made in Aotearoa.

Te Matatini Society which hosts the biennial festival, has joined forces with the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, to create a massive mahau (porch front).

For the past couple of months, 20 carvers at the institute have been working on a 4500 year old kauri log which was recovered from a Northland swamp, and a large totara log.

The mahau which will have a span 30 metres, stand more than 13 metres high and weigh more than 26 tonnes, will frame Te Matatini stage at the Rotorua International Stadium.

Carvings will represent iwi from throughout Aotearoa and unite all aspects of the arts.

Te Matatini executive director Darrin Apanui says the aim is to be able to use the mahau in the future as a cultural doorway, through which all things Kiwi can be showcased.

Arts and Crafts Institute director Karl Johnstone says creating the porch front is an ambitious project.

He says it's not only taken up every available metre of space at the carving school, but also part of the adjoining carpark.