Monday, October 13, 2008

Toi Maori: Small Treasures

Small Treasures arrive at de Young Museum
By Ed Moy

The Toi Maori "Small Treasures" exhibition opened following a sacred exchange of indigenous peoples from the Native American Ohlone tribe and the Maori from New Zealand in front of the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park last month.

Local Ohlone tribe member Chuck Striplen met with Toi Maori representative Derek Lardelli in a traditional ceremonial greeting to "connect with the spirit" of each peoples.

The Maori are native to New Zealand, which is also known as Aotearoa, "the land of the great white cloud".

Stripen called it the ceremony a way for local "indigenous people to recognize other indigenous people arriving here in the Bay Area."

During the opening ceremony, Lardelli chanted several Maori invocations asking his ancestors to bless and look after the gifts and treasures brought to the museum for the exhibit.

"It's a beginning point for creating a sacred thread," Lardelli said of the meeting, which connected the Maori and Ohlone people together.

The exhibition of contemporary Maori art, which included works for sale from some of Aotearoa's top Maori artists, is a collaboration between Toi Maori Aotearoa, Pataka Museum and the de Young Museum. The three-day exhibition (Oct. 10-12) included taa moko (native tattoo art), gallery talks, a presentation of Maori garments and weaving demonstrations.

Toi Maori Aotearoa first established relations here in 2005 when a Maori waka canoe sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge as part of the Maori Art Meets America exhibition. The goal for Toi Maori Aotearoa is to create new markets for Maori artists in America.

Lardelli added: "When you enshroud things in mystery, you no longer survive, but if you demystify them there is understanding."

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