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At Lake Ngaroto 

Highslide JS Korotangi Series

“Korotangi - A bird lost and found. In a song known to the Tainui peoples and some others, a poet mourns the loss of his pet, a beautiful bird named Korotangi. This man had given his bird the best of food, but his wife had thought this a waste and in his absence took the good food for herself and treated Korotangi badly. Finally the angry bird escaped – or perhaps the woman let it out of its cage. The man searched for his pet but found only a few of its feathers. He kept these plumes in a carved box made for the purpose, and he composed a lament that was soon widely known.

A stone bird of unknown origin, carved in a style that is not Māori, was found in the Waikato district in about 1879, reportedly among the roots of a mānuka tree blown down in a gale. This bird was at once recognised by leading rangatira as being Korotangi, now turned to stone. The people wept over their bird, singing the old lament, and it was explained by some that this treasure had been brought on the Tainui waka from Hawaiki.”

(M. Orbell,1995)

I did not want to simply illustrate the Tainiu taonga – Korotangi for obvious and subtle reasons. What l did want to produce was something of mystery and duality.

The surrealist process of combining opposites into one object is not new, however contexts do become interesting - even relevant to us, when related objects in nature mutate. In this case feather and stone as signifiers of Korotangi, or Man. My Korotangi Series references universal principles of: the duality of man, male and female, loss and mourning, the great deluge, relationships,… global and local values like whakapapa, whenua, kai, utu,…

“This is not a Maori bird. Consider – look at the carved feathers thereof. It comes from a distance – a foreign country, or over the sea.” (O.C.Davis, 1889)

James F. Ormsby, 2004.

Over the Waikato 

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No 16


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No 19

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No 2 

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No 7 

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