Waka hoe paddling across time

The hoe patterns are the earliest examples of kowhaiwhai

The hoe patterns are the earliest examples of kowhaiwhai

Waka hoe (canoe paddle) on loan from Te Papa to the Rongowhakaata Iwi Exhibition.

Pictures by Liam Clayton
Representations of the waka hoe by Steve Gibbs.

A waka hoe (canoe paddle) on loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to the Rongowhakaata Iwi Exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum is one of 22 paddles housed in museums in Europe, the US and New Zealand.

The design on the paddle is one of the 18 hoe Toihoukura associate professor Steve Gibbs drew and included in his exhibition A-hoe! at the Gisborne museum.

The hoe patterns are the earliest examples of kowhaiwhai.

Botanical illustrator and natural history artist Sydney Parkinson, who joined Lieutenant James Cook’s scientific expedition into the Pacific in 1769, drew three hoe patterns in red ink.

Gibbs drew his in ultramarine to suggest the patterns came from the ocean.

A blessing and a curse is how Gibbs described the fact the hoe ended up in foreign museums.

“The curse is they were removed from our cultural consciousness,” he says. “The blessing is if the hoe hadn’t been gifted to (Tahitian navigator aboard the Endeavour) Tupaia, they would have been lost.”

A waka hoe (canoe paddle) on loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to the Rongowhakaata Iwi Exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum is one of 22 paddles housed in museums in Europe, the US and New Zealand.

The design on the paddle is one of the 18 hoe Toihoukura associate professor Steve Gibbs drew and included in his exhibition A-hoe! at the Gisborne museum.

The hoe patterns are the earliest examples of kowhaiwhai.

Botanical illustrator and natural history artist Sydney Parkinson, who joined Lieutenant James Cook’s scientific expedition into the Pacific in 1769, drew three hoe patterns in red ink.

Gibbs drew his in ultramarine to suggest the patterns came from the ocean.

A blessing and a curse is how Gibbs described the fact the hoe ended up in foreign museums.

“The curse is they were removed from our cultural consciousness,” he says. “The blessing is if the hoe hadn’t been gifted to (Tahitian navigator aboard the Endeavour) Tupaia, they would have been lost.”

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