17 Aug 2015

Kingi Tawhiao bust for museum

7:12 pm on 17 August 2015

A bronze bust of the second Māori king, Tāwhiao, has been unveiled today in Hamilton where it will go on permanent display.

Bust of King Tawhiao at Waikato Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato

Bust of King Tawhiao at Waikato Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Kīngi Tawhaio Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero headed the Kīngitanga from 1860 to 1894.

The bronze sculpture is by Hamilton-born artist, Gary Schofield, who now lives in Washington DC. He started work on the sculpture in the 1980s and it was completed by 1987.

Since then it has been stored in his mother's garage in Hamilton. But last year, to mark the 150th anniversary of the city of Hamilton, the bust was gifted to Waikato-Tainui, and Kīngi Tuheitia in turn has gifted it to the city.

It is now on display at the Waikato Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, where a ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

It was unveiled by the mayor, Julie Hardaker, and Kīngi Tuheitia's son, Whatumoana Paki, who stood in for his father.

Gary Schofield said Kīngi Tāwhiao had an extraordinary face, as seen in an early photo of him.

"If you are looking at things from an artistic point of view - form and light and angle and shape is very important for a sculpture, and when you create a sculpture it has to have the kind of dynamic expression that Kīngi Tāwhiao has."

Mr Schofield said Kīngi Tāwhiao was the epitome of a Māori warrior, but he believed in non-violent resistance which is extraordinary.

"He was a visionary who understood that the future was justice and reconciliation and from that would come restitution - and it took generations."

Contemporary photo of King Tawhiao.

Contemporary photo of King Tawhiao. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Mr Schofield said he is very proud that Waikato-Tainui found that the sculpture was worthy of public display.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said the gifting of the bust was another sign of the important relationship between Waikato-Tainui and the city of Hamilton.

She said everyone was amazed when word of the sculpture and its gifting to the city became known last year.

"When you look at the bust it is so lifelike, and an exceptional piece of art."

Rahui Papa is chairman of Te Arataura, the executive of Waikato-Tainui.

He said it was exciting to have the bronze sculpture because, apart from a bronze of Princess Te Puea Hērangi at Turangawaewae, most taonga in the past have been wood carvings.

Mr Papa said there was now much more awareness about the reign of Kīngi Tāwhiao.

He said most of the king's sayings and phrases are as relevant today as they were in the 1800s.

"An example is 'I will fashion my own house', which meant he was setting his own path of destiny."

Mr Papa said Kīngi Tāwhiao was also instrumental in starting Poukai, the annual visit by the King to each of the 68 marae within the Waikato-Tainui rohe, which continues today.

Mr Papa said today's ceremony was fitting for the occasion.

"By all accounts Tāwhiao wasn't a 'pomp and ceremony' type guy, he was a 'get the hands dirty and get on with it' (guy) so I think the ceremony today was absolutely befitting of the nature of Kīngi Tāwhiao."

Whatumoana Paki, son of King Tuheitia, and artist Gary Schofield.

Whatumoana Paki (son of King Tuheitia and representing him) Gary Schofield (artist) Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae