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Uku Māori kapu 5 by Alex Tūkariri-Wong
Uku Māori kapu 5 by Alex Tūkariri-Wong
Uku Māori kapu 5 by Alex Tūkariri-Wong
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This carved piece is called 'Whiro'. It was made with kōkōwai (red earth) applied to it in different layers then whetū (stars) carved into it. It's called Whiro, being the darkest night in the maramataka when you can see the most whetū. I also feel like Whiro gets a bad rap so want to mihi to them. I wonder whether its not disasters and disease that they send to us, but rather lessons or reminders to correct what we're doing wrong, both on an individual and wider social level.

These uku are all made by me on a pottery wheel, from uku I’ve dug and prepared myself by hand. In this batch two different types of uku are used, half from Ōtaki from the whenua of Ngāti Raukawa and half from Maunga Emiemi, on the whenua of Ngāti Kahu. In 2021 I was inspired to enter the world of uku due to a feverish desire to replicate a bowl of my late Papas, which I thought to have been lost. A simple but beautiful Chinese bowl that I used to make sure I would get to eat from. Since then I’ve worked mostly on a pottery wheel creating food-ware, however have become increasingly excited by hand-built things such as taonga puoro and other things. I use glazes and oneone (natural pigment) to adorn or complement the uku I’ve collected.


70mm x 80mm

About the artist

My names Alex Tūkariri-Wong. I’m a descendant of Ngāti Kahu and Ngāpuhi on my mums side and China, Irish and Welsh heritage on my papas side. I grew up in Whangaroa in Te Tai Tokerau, which is where I hope to lay to rest alongside the rest of my whanau. I grew up on Maunga Emiemi and this is where I first learnt how to make, collect process and hope to return and build a studio in the near future. I’m inspired by the patterns, textures and colours that naturally occur in te taiao, and interpretations of these from a Māori perspective. I could talk on this forever to be honest. I’m in love with Papatuanuku, and most of her children.


https://www.kauaeraro.com/matauranga/uku-tikanga (a piece I wrote on gathering uku)