Museum and Heritage Studies, 2016
If you’ve been to Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn Campus since 2013, chances are you’ve seen Rangi Kipa’s sculpture Pikimairawea which sits in the redesigned Tim Beaglehole Courtyard, just off from the Hub.
On sunny days Pikimairawea acts as the backdrop for a relaxing study break, but what does it mean beyond a pretty place to enjoy a coffee?
The symbol of the matau, or fishhook, recurs throughout Kipa’s practice. It is a symbol linking objects and people to place. Pikimairawea is a fitting sculpture to take its place in the courtyard of the Hub of Victoria's Kelburn Campus which should be a place for a meeting of the minds, freedom of expression and exploration.
According to Māori mythology, Pikimairawea is the name of Māui’s fishhook which he fashioned from his grandmother’s enchanted jawbone. Māui used Pikimairawea to lure and reel in the giant stingray that became the North Island, known as Te Ika a Māui.
Māui is a demi-god, and for lack of a better comparison, a Polynesian Herakles, or perhaps even a Polynesian Loki. It is said, through many of these myths and legends, that he is responsible for many tricky feats and is noted for defying the odds, pushing boundaries and being incredibly resourceful attempting even to destroy the goddess of death herself.
Rangi Kipa is a New Zealand sculptor, carver, illustrator and tā moko (Māori tattooing) artist with ties to Taranaki, Te Atiawa and Ngāti Maniapoto tribes. Kipa is a Māori artist who works in a number of mediums, both traditional and contemporary.
His recent works adapt traditional forms using new materials. In the artist's own words, quoted from his website (www.rangikipa.com linked below)
“I like to continuously push my own boundaries and challenge the status quo, artistic expression, artistic practice should reflect the realities of life. This means that I use all manner of materials as mediums for my artistic expression from natural organic resources to composite space age compounds.”