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Adams, Mark Bentley (New Zealand, b.1949)
Aoraki

Aue ra
E Aoraki
Te Maunga Ariki
Maringi ai
0 roimata
Ki roto o Pukaki

Kai tuohu koe
Me he maunga teitei
Ko Aoraki anake

Alas, there you are Aoraki,our mountain who reigns supreme and whose tears spill into Pukaki

If you must bow your head then let it be to a lofty mountain To Aoraki alone

(With acknowledgements, to Tau, Goodall, Palmer & Tau, Te Whakatau Kaupapa, Aoraki Press, 1990,)

These verses express the traditional veneration of the Maori of Te Wai Pounamu for their greatest mountain. Aoraki (Aorangi, or Mount Cook), the highest mountain in Te Wai Pounamu, presides over the skyline beyond Lake Pukaki here in this view from beside the hydro-electric intakes from the lake, Aoraki is even more prominent on the West Coast, where it is only 30 km from the sea. At closer quarters still, the mountain is seen from the Hooker Valley in its alpine setting.

Aoraki is at the centre of an ancient creation legend. According to this, Aoraki and his brothers visited Earth in their great waka (canoe). A mistake made in the karakia (incantation) enabling them to return to their celestial home caused the waka to crash and overturn, leaving the brothers stranded. Unable to return to the heavens, they turned to stone as the peaks of the Southern Alps. Maori tradition therefore sees the peaks as ancestors deserving of veneration.

Text by Harry Evison, from 'Land of Memories',1993.
1988
silver bromide photograph
254 x 203 mm; 254 x 203 mm
85-1994
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1994 by the artist.

not on view

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