Collection: Hono - NATHAN WHARTON

18 February – 15 March 2022

Nathan Wharton of Te Arawa and Ngāpuhi descent, is a celebrated weaving practitioner with a background in Māori performing arts. Accrediting his artistry to his ancestry and upbringing, Wharton has enjoyed a career in performing arts and tourism for over twenty years. Career highlights include the 2000 Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 2010 World Trade fair Yokohama Japan and several Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competitions. Born in Australia, Wharton moved to Rotorua in 1996 where he spent his teenage years.  In 2010 he ventured back across the Tasman for a period of eight years, returning once again to Aotearoa in 2018.  Wharton resides in Utakura, Northland with whanau.  Following his passion for the arts, Wharton recently completed a Bachelor degree Maunga Kura Toi – Toi Te Wai Ngarahu (Māori Arts Degree) at North Tec, Whangarei and is the recipient of our ‘North Tec Graduate Exhibition Programme’ for 2021. During his studies at North Tec, Wharton ventured into the sculptural realm of whakairo (carving) and created the six Pou on show here in HONO. Accompanied by a masterfully woven piupiu, the entire collection of works in HONO speak loudly of connection – our connection, to the past, the present and the future.

Waerenga Te Kaha – through struggle one succeeds – piupiu  Whatu/Rāranga (weaving) is an essential part of life for Wharton. He duly acknowledges those of the Te Rito Weaving School – New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute for being at the forefront of his art journey. Wharton is involved in many community projects such as He Kura Waikato – 100 years of Turangawaewae. The Haka stage also remains a runway for many of Nathan’s creations including Fascinators, Poi, Pari, Piupiu and Kaakahu. He is currently involved in the making of new piupiu for the next Te Matatini Competition.  This style of piupiu on show in HONO is inspired by traditional pihepihe of old and the pa’u skirts of the pacific. Three layers of shredded korari (flax), piupiu pokinikini (flax tags) and muka hukahuka (fibre tassels) have been whatu or twined together. Commercial dye is used to replace traditionally used paru (black swamp mud) to ensure the work remains archival.  Waerenga Te Kaha measures 800 x 1800mm. 

In the style of Ralph Hotere’s infamous Black Phoenix series, this collection of Pou (Ngati Hao, Te Whanau Pani, Ngati Toro, Te Ngahengahe, Te Honihoni, Te Popoto) by Wharton, are intended as a reminder of our connection to the celestial realm.  Likened to the inner back wall of our whare tupuna, they are also a reminder of our past.  Emminating a strong sense of foresight, these sentry-like warriors look out and into the future. The hapūnames found within Utatewhanga are derived from an event and not so much an ancestor. Special acknowledgement is made to our ancestor Tauratumaru and his mokopuna kaikinikini. They are responsible for naming and giving autonomy to each whare and hapū. Each of the six wall mounted pou are carved from Tasmanian Blackwood off-cuts and treated with generous layers of Linseed oil and Mineral Turpentine, to nourish and preserve.  

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