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New Zealand Post Honours The Heitiki As An Icon Of Maori Art

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Fuseworks Media
New Zealand Post Honours The Heitiki As An Icon Of Maori Art

New Zealand Post has released the second in its annual Matariki stamp series, honouring the heitiki as an icon of Maori art - past and present.

The six-stamp series was unveiled at the Rongomaraeroa Marae at Te Papa Tongarewa on 23 June. The launch coincided with the start of Matariki, the dawn of the Maori new year, and included performances by Richard Nunns, a renowned authority on traditional Maori instruments, and Te Reo singer Mere Boynton.

"Matariki is an appropriate time to honour Maori culture as a key influence on, and an integral part of, New Zealand's sense of nationhood. We have taken this opportunity to showcase these excellent examples of Maori Art to the world," said James Te Puni, Sales and Marketing Manager for New Zealand Post stamps business.

"We have worked closely with leading Maori designers, academics, and organisations to further build on last year's successful Kingitanga and Matariki series, and shape the 2009 Matariki stamp issue. We are grateful for everyone's continued support," Mr Te Puni said.

The six-stamp series honours the heitiki as an icon of Maori Art, and features three contemporary and three historic heitiki.

Raponi's contemporary heitiki, carved from pounamu (greenstone), is on the $1.00 stamp. A self-taught carver, Raponi has carved more than 1,000 heitiki since the late 1960s. He specialises in Maori weapons and personal adornments made from New Zealand pounamu and paraoa (whalebone), concentrating mainly on the various forms of heitiki. The use of paraoa signifies a particularly high regard for the taonga being created.

The $1.50 stamp shows the contemporary carving by Rangi Kipa. Proficient in various disciplines, Rangi specialises in ta moko, sculpture, and ethnographic taonga and has works in major collections in New Zealand and overseas. Rangi was awarded the 2006 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Art Fellowship and the Molly Morpeth Canaday Creative Excellence Award in 2004.

Rangi Hetet's paraoa carving appears on the $2.30 stamp. The contemporary carving links this year's series to the inaugural series in 2008 when it featured on the $2.00 stamp.

Heitiki from the past are honoured on the other three stamps.

An early pounamu heitiki, which was a feature of the acclaimed Te Maori exhibition that toured the United States in 1984, is on the 50 cent stamp. The permanent home for this taonga is the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and it was selected for the issue to recognise the 25th Anniversary of Te Maori.

The heitiki depicted on the $2.00 stamp is held in Te Papa. Milky green in colour, it shows the variety and beauty of the pounamu, the main material used in carving special and important heitiki.

The $1.80 stamp features the unprovenanced heitiki, also held in Te Papa's collections. While its origin is unknown, this heitiki was selected by Te Papa's curatorial team as an excellent example of the art.

The various Matariki 2009 stamp products also feature the seven stars of Matariki (the Pleiades constellation).

Consistent with the cultural significance of Matariki, the stamps carry the name "Aotearoa" as well as the standard "New Zealand" identification. Various New Zealand Post Matariki product material has been translated into Te Reo Maori.

Maori designer Len Hetet, who worked with New Zealand Post to help create the 2009 Matariki stamp collection, said: "It was a great challenge to work with this icon of Maori Art in forms from the time of our ancestors through to the best of today's Maori artists."

Other partners in the stamps' development included Toi Maori Aotearoa - Maori Arts New Zealand, the New Zealand Maori Tourism Council, The Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa, the Auckland War Memorial Museum I Tamaki Paenga Hira, Te Puni Kokiri and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori.

In addition, expert translator Lewis Moeau provided translation services and Ngahiraka Mason and Dr Hirini (Sidney) Moko Mead have made written contributions for supporting material in the stamp series.

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