Tuesday, February 2, 2016

There are many fascinating personifications of knowledge through Maori perspective. This tekoteko is a representation of Rua te Ruru, wisdom of the owl. 

The Ruru (native New Zealand Owl) is a kaitiaki of Te Po, that is to say, guardian of the night, the unseen energies, realm of the departed. 

The Ruru is a nocturnal bird, hunting at night in the thick dense forests of Tane. 

I made the carving from an old totara fence post from Taumarunui. I have left the base of the carving natural, whilst the carving itself has a danish oil finish. 

Materials; Heart Mountain Totara, Paua shell, Danish oil 

Dimensions; 860mm x 160mm x 160mm 

By James Cannon, Taumarunui 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tribute to Tāne

The central motivation of this piece is the hexagon and pentagon. The hexagon represents macrocosm, everything larger than ourselves, whilst the pentagon represents microcosm, the smaller scale down to the minute. 6 is the number of structure whilst 5 represents life.
I carefully duplicated the dimensions of the areas in-between the two shapes, and rotated them into position (shown in white) forming a crafty composition of the classic Māori ‘Wheku’ design in a most striking and simplified manner.
The ‘Wheku’ design not only displays a face but expresses the foundation of our reality ‘Te Ao Marama’ through mnemonics subtly presenting the great feats of Tāne-nui-a-rangi who brought light and knowledge into our realm.

I view Atua-Māori as inter-dimensional energies macrocosmically beyond, yet microcosmically integrated within us through our spiritual and astral bodies. This system shows how consciousness is within oneself yet simultaneously throughout the universe all at the same moment.

Night and Day Project 2015

This carving presents the cyclic nature of life. The figure represents Tāne but with Puriri moth (NZ Ghost Moth) connotations suggesting a life and death scenario.
Tāne is associated with life-force, he thrust his parents Rangi and Papa apart with his legs so all life could dwell in-between. He created man and flew to the heavens receiving all knowledge for mankind, this I have represented by the knowledge transfer symbol in the 3rd eye area. He also represents the forest and all life within including birds and insects.
Meanwhile the Puriri moth is associated with death; these moths are attracted to the Puriri tree, which are often Tapu through their use as a burial site. Traditionally an infusion of the leaves was used to wash the body of the deceased for preservation purposes.
The Puriri caterpillars (Mokoroa) would eventually kill the trees, but the birds in turn would feed on them! and so the cyclic nature of life continues... 

Friday, November 21, 2014

'Te Hoe o Kiwa', 2014, 85cm long, Matai Timber
The two hues of blue represent the ocean currents coming together. A representation of Kiwa is seen on the handle. Kiwa is a guardian of the ocean.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

This piece is entitled "Tukutahinga" referring to the synchronisation of the two hemispheres of the brain. The white hues represent light and knowledge synchronising. The purple represents knowledge transfer, the Pineal gland, the centre of perception. The twelve white sections represent the 12 Heavens.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This dragon carving is a fusion of ancient Scandinavian and English art styles. I developed the dragon imagery into spiraling twisted coils to representing the path of the sun throughout the year. The pattern that emerges from spring equinox to autumn is one of a double spiral - the dragon.

Dragon imagery has been also been closely associated with unseen energies, fertility, protection and esoteric wisdom.


‘Rua-te-pupuke and Te Manu-hauturuki’ carved out of native totara wood, paua, clam and mother of pearl inlays. Size: 1000mm

This carving represents the origins of carving, where Rua (a personification of knowledge) dived down into the deep sea into Tangaroa’s domain in search of his child Te Manu-hauturuki. He found his child setup on Tangaroa’s house as a tekoteko (gable figure). Tangaroa is one of the supreme atua of the Polynesian people he is lord of the ocean, and his house was richly adorned by carvings.
After Rua defeated the Ponaturi (the evil sea fairies) at that house, he took the carved posts on the outside away as examples and models, and brought them back to the human world.

Monday, June 23, 2014

‘Tāne-nui-ā-Rangi’ carved out of native totara wood, paua shell inlays.                            Size: 500mm high

My main concern for this carving was to create the strength and life force connotations associated with the human being. I choose to depict the mighty Tāne-nui-ā-Rangi to reflect these attributes which are characteristics of a chief. 

Mango-Tipi -The Great White Shark. This is a traditional Maori design taken from the east coast of New Zealand. I copied it from a plate in Augustus Hamilton's 1896 Book on Maori Art.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Up!

‘The Four Props’ hand painted acrylic on canvas.                                                                Size: 460mm x 460mm

This piece represents my own abstract interpretation of the origins of the universe through the Māori tradition of the four props; Tokomua, Tokoroto, Tokopa, and Rangi-potiki. These props were used to permanently separate Rangi and Papa (Heaven and Earth).
I built this design in three stages in coordination with the three states of existence, with Te Kore (the void) represented at the centre, Te Pō (the night) beyond that, and Te Ao-mārama (the world of light) on the very outside configured out of life symbols. I used the golden ratio 1:618 to space these three levels accordingly.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Tawhirimatea, Future Whakaaro (Wire Tekoteko 2013)

Whano koe ki te rangi,Ki a Tawhirimatea

Kia Kaha ai koe,Kia toa ai koe,

Kia whai mana ai koe!

Go to the heavens,

To Tawhirimatea,

So that you will be strong, 

So that you will be brave,

So that you will have mana!

(unknown author on original, but translated by Michael Shirres in his book Te Tangata, 1997)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Waikura, My Shed in Taumarunui

Project: Aoteatea Whakairo

This project represents a spiritual reflection of my world, I decided to carve the front of my shed to give it the prestige it deserves after completing the 'Te Maunga Kura Toi' degree program.

The Koruru (front mask) represents Rua-te-pupuke (the personification of knowledge) and the manaia at the raparapa represent Tumatauenga (contextual) and Rongo (conceptual) all these elements are essential for carving. The puhoro kowhaiwhai design represents a tohu, an acomplishment, also speed and agility in all these elements above.

I based the koruru on a wheku mask, Tane in his propped up position and a cows pelvis, a mnemonic to the Taurus star constellation and connectivity to the earth element. The Taurus constellation is one of the key 4 zodiac markers, marking summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Maori New year (matariki) in May/June time. 
The koruru faces exactly north which aligns with England's Stonehenge monument, I was bought up 28km away in a small town called Andover so this is rather significant to me. 

Westward my Rongo manaia faces the Great pyramids of Giza, as the opposing  side Tu faces Tongariro. On an Egyptian level I have designed these manaia in a subtle adapted form of the Ankh symbol, these symbols represent the keys to the golden gate (gate of the gods), [Scopio] -on Rongo's side and silver gate (the gate of man), [Taurus] -on Tu's side. They depict the journey of the soul and birth and death of the Sun every twelve hours.

The Milky way bisects the ecliptic along the zodiac cycle through the two points of Taurus and Scorpio, hence on rare occasions the event of galactic alignment conjunction happens where earth aligns with the galactic center.

The Voyager

Project: Karakia Whakairo

I look upon Karakia Whakairo as a pathway or connection to the divine, illumination and expansion of knowledge.
In this carving I show a figure tuning into the source (Io-te-wananga) via the third eye and crown chakra, the connective interface between the physical and spiritual worlds. This carving also shows the convergence of knowledge (Hukatai) coming together through accumulation of facts that centralise themselves into wisdom (Rehu-tai) presenting expansion of consciousness.

The carving is made of three sections based on the golden ratio (ф=1.618). They represent the human, planetary and Stella scales and simultaneously the three Maori states of existence, Te Ao, Te Po and Te kore.

I started off the carving with a tiki styled figure at the base morphed into a head at the lower rectangle zone which the viewer can associate oneself with, I have emphasised the 3rd eye region in the form of a ruru (owl) head, this shows extension and is exactly half a golden rectangle. 

The lighted up v-formation on the figure represents life-force highlighting our bodies solar plexus region, plus at the same time the accumulation of facts (Hukatai), [Sea-foam] as the light comes together at the point of the 3rd eye area it heads straight up in an organised manner representing wisdom (rehutai), [Sea-spray]. 

Above the ruru head we have a representation of the twelve heavens, these I have depicted in organised layers like a rainbow in the dual forms of the karearea hawk, and the whale back fin to denote travel and experience. The rehutai beam of energy permeates through these levels straight up from the crown of the ruru to the eliptical takarangi spiral representing the cosmos, the abode of Io, the Stella scale and te kore. The elliptical form is reminiscent to the shape of our galaxy, The Milky Way and also represents the duality of the micro and macrocosm.

 The back-plate is in the shape of an upward positioned waka suggested a celestial spiritual journey.

The Great Separation, Kinetic Mobile

Project: Tatau-pounamu 

In a traditional sense Tatau-pounamu is a peace agreement between two parties, yet if we look closer into the dynamics of this agreement we see that Tatau-pounamu is an event that brings forth a permanent state of change from unstability to stability, Tatau (doorway) implies event whilst Pounamu (New Zealand Jade) implies a sense of permanence.

For this project I decided to focus on the biggest example of Tatau-pounamu I could find, the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku (heaven and earth) for this reason I decided to depict the main atua who were involved connected presented in a mobile form to evoke balance, freedom and movement. 

The mobile portrays the exact moment separation occurred, hence we have Tumatauenga and Tumatakaka holding the sacred toki used to severe their parents arms from their embrace. We have Ue-poto pointing to the way out and Tane in his classic propped up position along with Tu-pai.

I organised the atua paddles in a specific order according to our chakra locations, this is because I view the Atua Maori as Dual personifications of our chakras (inner world) and our worlds natural phenomena (outer world).

I relate this knowledge to Tatau-pounamu because once separation occurred then Tane obtained the 3 baskets of knowledge of which all the atua were assigned to their duties.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My final design of my carving shed project.. The project is due by November 17th 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Double Helix 21st Key

Here is a 21st Key I've made, the double Helix form (like DNA) represents life and continuity. It is replicated three times to represent the Human, Planetary and Stella scales. The wood is of local Mountain Totara. The carving is approximately 60cm tall and has a peered finish all round.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


This is an acrylic on plywood painting. I am currently creating a whole range of Atua Maori in a simple fun expression, though strong and rich in mnemonics, one can learn from.

This particular piece is of Tangaroa, he has a serpentine form, the drip shape in-between his tale reminds us of water. He is embellished in fish-scales that offer him protection.

The blue colour reminds us of the sea, beyond this it reminds us of communication, creativity and the arts.. seeing the whole and so forth. 

He is holding his own ancient symbol in the form of a tiki-wananga. 

The double spiral represents evolution of the physical and spiritual.

This is a continual volunteer project I have planned with Parone Street Kindy, Taumarunui.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rongo-marae-roa tekoteko trophey

This is a tekoteko I carved for the Dinner at the Domain 2012 event placed in Taumarunui. It was a trophey for the Marae cook-off competition.

I choose to depict Rongo because he is atua of peaceful pursuits and cultivated food, (mainly the kumara).
I choose the pattern 'taratara a kai' because this surface design was traditionally used on pataka (storage house) It represents in this context plentiful kai (food).

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Daughter presenting my Maui Spiral kowhaiwhai panel which was based on a design out of Hamilton's 1896 book on Maori Art. This painting was a gift for my Kaiako.

To me this piece represents the continual passing on of knowledge.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Waka Huia, 2012. 
Carved from NZ Matai wood, with 2 Whanganui river stones to hold lid on,
43cm (L) x 15cm (W) x 14cm (H)