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The Ngākau Carving Symposium, to be held during the upcoming school holidays from April 18-27 2024, in Thames, Hauraki, is a two-week public event that welcomes the Community across generations and cultures, from mokopuna to Kuia and Kaumātua.

The Symposium attracts professional and emerging artists from throughout Aotearoa who share a deep passion for Whakairo (carving), working with Kōhatu (stone) and Rākau (wood). In its second year in 2024, the symposium is proudly hosted and supported by Te Kura o te Kauaeranga, Thames South School.

The symposium is committed to upholding Mahi Toi Maori while also embracing diverse artistic practices from various cultures, fostering opportunities for intercultural exchange and learning from experts in Whakairo, Tukutuku, Raranga, and other art forms. It emphasises the importance of nurturing a connection to each individual’s identity and culture, ensuring the enrichment of artistic traditions for present and future generations.

In 2023, the inaugural carving symposium was named Ngākau O te Rākau Oki – The Heart of the Oak, in honour of a 100+ year-old oak tree that had to be felled on the Kura grounds. Its wood was then transformed into sculptures by participating carvers. Many of these sculptures are now displayed in local Thames businesses and organisations, ensuring that the legacy of the oak tree lives on.

Building on last year’s success, visitors to the 2024 Symposium will witness a wide variety of Rākau being utilised, all sourced from the district. Cyclone Gabriel brought down some of the trees to be carved, while others were unearthed from along the coast after being buried for many years. Local Kōhatu will also be sculpted, with some sourced from nearby rivers and others from the closest quarries.

Saturday, April 27th will be the symposium’s final day and all the beautiful carvings from the event will be auctioned. Kai will be available for purchase, and all are welcome to attend, whether they plan to purchase a carving or just to be part of what will be an exciting conclusion to the two week cultural event.

This event is made possible by the support of our entire Thames community and the organisers of the Ngākau Carving Symposium warmly invite your participation. If you are interested in contributing to the symposium, here is how you could be involved. Volunteers are currently being sought to help prepare meals for the artists or to have a presence on the grounds during the course of the event. Alternatively donations of kai (food) for the artists’ meals would also be highly valued.

Further, Ngākau is still seeking sponsorship for two artists,each sponsorship being valued at $1500. Of this figure, $1000 will be paid directly to the artist in recognition of their mahi, while the remaining $500 will go to Te Kura o Te Kauaeranga, these funds raised for the Kura will be used for extracurricular activities for tamariki and contributes to non-Ministry of Education funded grounds and facilities development.

Sponsors will receive a carving crafted by one of the Symposium’s 16 talented artists.

Those interested in getting involved are invited to reach out to Ngākau at ngakaucommittee@gmail.com to learn more about how you can contribute or become a sponsor. You can also follow updates and live feeds during the Symposium at https://www.facebook.com/NgakauCarvingSymposiumHaurakiAotearoaNZ

“He waka eke noa”

“We are all on this waka together”

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