Artwork Name: Hinemoa and Tūtānekai
Artist Name: Albert Te Pou
Location: 1Te Manawa, intersection of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai Streets
Medium: Macrocarpa and corten steel
This artwork, by master carver Albert Te Pou, depicts the figures of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai – ancestors of the local Te Arawa people.
Located on intersection of the streets of the same names, the area is called Te Manawa – the heart of the city.
The two lovers, Hinemoa and Tūtānekai are represented by two tekoteko (carved figures) and located apart – longing for each other as Tūtānekai plays his flute.
The story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai is interwoven throughout the history of the Rotorua region and many thousands of their descendants live on today.
Tūtānekai lived with his tribe on Mokoia Island in the middle of Lake Rotorua while Hinemoa, the daughter of a chief, lived on the mainland at Ōwhata. As an illegitimate young warrior, Tūtānekai was considered unsuitable for Hinemoa, but every night, Tūtānekai would play his flute, sitting high on a hill on Mokoia Island– the winds carrying his music across the lake to her.
One evening, Hinemoa decided she could not bear the separation any longer and swam across the cold lake to her love. You can see the calabashes (gourds) she used as floatation aids, beneath her arms and between her legs.
To carve the figures, Te Pou used a range of traditional whakairo rākau (wood carving) tools, but he prefers his chainsaw for larger pieces.
When the area was redeveloped in 2017, the artwork was removed and Te Pou was able to restore it to its former glory. After 20 years outside, weathering had caused defects, splits, rot, and flaking paint.
He reshaped Hinemoa’s head, eye, and hair, carved and designed kōwhaiwhai onto the calabashes, and applied burgundy paint to the figures.
The steel poles were also reclad and had lighting installed as part of the refresh.
Credit: Albert Te Pou, Hinemoa and Tutānekai, 1994. Commissioned by Rotorua Lakes Council.
About the artist: Master Carver Albert Te Pou (Ngāi Tūhoe) is the former head tutor of Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau at the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute.
As a student of the same school he received the prestigious Sir Henry Kelliher award and the title of Graduate of Honour. Since graduating in 1979, Te Pou has continued carving and handing down his knowledge. He has exhibited his work all over New Zealand and internationally including in London, Japan, Hawaii, Korea and Noumea.