HONO – Connection – Nathan Wharton

18 February – 15 March 2022

Nathan Wharton of Te Arawa and Ngāpuhi descent, is a celebrated weaving practitioner with a background in Māori performing arts. Accrediting his artistry to his ancestry and upbringing, Nathan has enjoyed a career in performing arts and tourism for twenty years. Career highlights include the 2000 Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 2010 World Trade fair Yokohama Japan and several Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competitions. Born in Australia, Wharton moved to Rotorua in 1996 where he spent his teenage years.  In 2010 he ventured back across the Tasman for a period of eight years, returning once again to Aotearoa in 2018.  Wharton resides in Utakura, Northland with whanau.  Following his passion for the arts, Wharton recently completed a Bachelor degree Maunga Kura Toi – Toi Te Wai Ngarahu (Māori Arts Degree) at North Tec, Whangarei and is the recipient of our ‘North Tec Graduate Exhibition Programme’ for 2021. During his studies at North Tec, Wharton ventured into the sculptural realm of whakairo (carving) and created the six Pou on show here in HONO. Accompanied by a piupiu and a burial mat, the sculptural works on show in HONO speak loudly of connection – to the past, present and future.

Waerenga Te Kaha – through struggle one succeeds – piupiu

Whatu/Rāranga(weaving) is an essential part of life for the Wharton and he acknowledges those of Te Rito Weaving School – New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute for being at the forefront of his art journey. Wharton is involved in many community projects such as He Kura Waikato – 100 years of Turangawaewae. The Haka stage also remains a runway for many of Nathan’s creations including Fascinators, Poi, Pari, Piupiu and Kaakahu. He is currently involved in the making of new piupiu for the next Te Matatini Competition.  This style of piupiu on show in HONO is inspired by traditional pihepihe of old and the pa’u skirts of the pacific. Three layers of shredded korari (flax), piupiu pokinikini (flax tags) and muka hukahuka (fibre tassels) have been whatu or twined together. Commercial dye is used to replace traditionally used paru (black swamp mud) to ensure the work remains archival.  Waerenga Te Kaha measures 800 x 1800mm. 

Takapou Wharanui burial mat

A combination of traditional raranga (basketry) techniques and whatu (twilling) techniques have been used to create a unique burial mat. This modern day burial resource is a practice that continues to grow across Aotearoa. Please contact us for more details or to book a time to discuss the work with Nathan.

The collection of Pou on show in HONO is a reminder of our connection to the celestial realm and is likened to the inner back wall of our whare tupuna as a reminder of our past. The sentry-like warriors also give the sense of foresight looking out and into the future. The hapū names found within Utatewhanga are derived from an incident or event and not so much an ancestor. The event was a massacre and the names of the hapū came from the processing of the koiwi or bones of the deceased. Special acknowledgement is made to our ancestor Tauratumaru and his mokopuna kaikinikini. They are responsible for naming and giving autonomy to each whare and hapū. Each of the six wall mounted pou are carved from Tasmanian Blackwood off-cuts and treated with copious layers of Linseed oil and Mineral Turpentine to nourish and preserve.  

Ngati Hao – The Gatherers  Tasked with gathering the bones of the fallen. Locations: Inner Hokianga, Horeke and Waihau valley.

Te Whanau Pani – The Mourners   Those who mourned. Location: Horeke at the base of Utatewhanga.

Ngati Toro – People of the Burning  Became to be after all the slain were cremated. Location: the marae known as Mataitaua on Rangiahua Road, Rangiahua.

Te Ngahengahe – The Rubbing  The space where the rubbing or scrapping of the bones took place. Location: Mokonuiarangi Marae, Utakura.

Te Honihoni – The Dripping   Refers to the dripping of marrow as the remains were carried. Location: the meeting house Puketawa.

Te Popoto – Principal tribe of Utakura   Founding ancestor Tauratumaru of the tribe Te Popoto.