13 Sep 2013

Stories behind ancient Taranaki Maori rock art revealed

6:50 pm on 13 September 2013

The stories behind some of Taranaki's ancient rock carvings and the significance of traditional stonemasonry will be demystified on Saturday as part of a major exhibition near New Plymouth.

Visitors will be welcomed on to Puniho Pa, which is also the site of Rauhoto Tapairu - the ancient guide stone that sits in the front of the marae. The pa is on State Highway 45.

The curator of the taonga Maori collection at Puke Ariki Museum, Glen Skipper, says as part of the Reo Karanga o Taranaki exhibition, people will learn about local stone carving techniques and the history behind some rarely seen rock art.

Glenn Skipper, Poutiaki Taonga, Puke Ariki.

Glenn Skipper, Poutiaki Taonga, Puke Ariki. Photo: TARANAKI DAILY NEWS

He says it is about reconnecting people with the role of kohatu or stone in Maori culture from early times right through to today, including archaic and contemporary Maori stone sculpturing.

Mr Skipper, of Ngati Tawhirikura and Te Atiawa descent, says the audience will also learn about the deeper spiritual importance of stone, how some pieces carry the "mauri" or life-force, and the reasons why kohatu have a special meaning in Maori society.