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Whangārei tauira little things win big

Two Taitokerau whakairo tauira have won major awards at the Whangārei Sculpture Symposium.

The work of Graham Nathan and Anthony Dunn, both former Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira in Whangārei, won the Te Au Mārie Trust journeys theme prize of $4,000 at the symposium held last week.

The biennial event this year invited artists to create a form that relates to the sestercentennial (250th anniversary) of the Lieutenant James Cook-captained Endeavour’s exploration of the Taitokerau coast.

Graham and Anthony, both of whom were tutored by Te Kuiti Stewart in whakairo, created three figurines titled He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata.

The artwork represented the coming together of Lt Cook, his Rapa Nui translator Tupaea and Māori.

“The underlying theme for us is that once you get past the symbols and the surface - like our religions and our skin colour – there’s a deeper meaning. If you look past these symbols below the skin we are all cut from the same stone,” said Graham.

“We all aspire for the same things for our mokopuna and our world. We want to speak to that kotahitanga and accept each other for our individuality and that’s a discussion that needs to be had.”

While the pair have both exhibited their toi through mahi whakairo in the past, this was their first symposium.

They had also never worked with stone before.

Graham and Anthony’s work will be installed at the Bay of Islands Airport next year.

The pair also won the Quest Hotel-sponsored ‘people’s choice’ award.

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