The week of 27-28 April 2022 saw the installation and blessing of Pou Iho, a new, specially commissioned collaborative artwork led by renowned Ngāpuhi (Te Hikutu) weaver-artist whaea Maureen Lander who mentored and co-created the work with a group of eight Waipapa Taumata Rau tauira (students) from across the Engineering, Fine Arts, and Architecture disciplines.
The work adorns and surrounds the three pou (support poles) in the atrium space that joins buildings 401 and 405 (bridging the old and new) and consists of ‘ladder’ elements that rise up segments of each pou, and subtle yet detailed tukutuku inspired designs circumnavigating each pou, fitted into the broad circular steel surrounds. Reinforcing one theme of building on the past to move into the future, Pou Iho combines traditional materials and techniques with contemporary ones, such as working raranga harakeke (weaved flax) into laser-cut acrylic pieces.
Pou Iho: The blessing ceremony
The seed of the idea came from discussions between Art Collection Advisor Lara Koolen and (then) Engineering Faculty Kaiārahi Cath Dunphy in 2019 and, with perseverance and much enthusiastic support from Engineering Faculty staff (and beyond) we negotiated multiple logistical, work schedule, and COVID-19 challenges to see the seed finally bear fruit this week. A moving blessing ceremony was held at dawn on Wednesday 28 April, led by Waipapa Taumata Rau Kaiarataki and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei representative Michael Steedman.
Maureen expressed her joy at co-creating with students, mirroring some of her experience as a past Waipapa Taumata Rau student and then Māori Studies staff member. Engineering Faculty tauira Paraone Luiten-Apirana gave a rich kōrero on behalf of the student co-creators, detailing the many themes and levels the work engages.
Speeches were wrapped up by Dean of Engineering Professor Gerard Rowe who noted the way the project perfectly expressed the aspirations of the Faculty and Waipapa Taumata Rau to support co-creation and multidisciplinary teaching, learning and research. The blessing was closed with the opportunity for the many parts of Waipapa Rau represented to share kai and kōrero.
Visiting Pou Iho
We would love for you to head down the the Engineering building (B405) Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha Atrium when you get a chance to take in and reflect on Pou Iho.