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Huia and the Twelve Heavens

57cm wide x 98cm high sculpture weighing 13.5kg. The egg is fibreglass with a metal base, covered with woven flax, plaited rope, feathers and canvas, which has been hand painted with acrylics, 2015

The original “Huia and the Twelve Heavens” sold at auction with all proceeds going to the Starship Foundation

Limited edition print available - scroll down and click 'add to cart'

Artwork Description:

In her recent works, Minson who is of mixed Maori, Swedish, English and Irish ancestry has been combining painting with sculptural and fabric elements, referencing traditional Maori feather cloaks. Continuing her decade-long artistic celebration of cultural and religious diversity, this egg, “Huia and the Twelve Heavens, links concepts from ancient Maori cosmology with Hindu mandala symbols and New Zealand’s extinct native huia bird.

In Maori culture, huia were not usually eaten but were rare and treasured for their precious white tipped feathers, worn by people to indicate status and mana. Although the species only lived in the southern North Island, the huia’s tail feathers spread throughout New Zealand because they were valued highly and were given as gifts among tribes to show great respect or exchanged for other valuable goods such as pounamu. The feathers were stored in intricately carved boxes called Waka Huia.

A huia has twelve feathers in its tail fan, like many perching birds. To our Maori ancestors, each tail feather of the huia represented one of the twelve heavens of Io, the Supreme Being, in Maori cosmology. The myth inspiring this artwork speaks of the Huia’s journey through the twelve heavens and back again and how he earned his white tipped tail feathers….

The Story of Manutea (White bird) and Te Manu Huia (Huia Bird)

Time had come for Taane, god of the forest and progenitor of mankind, to make his ascent to the 12 heavens to receive the baskets of knowledge. In order to deliver this most important message to Taane, Rehua who was an atua (god) residing in the heavens took from his own head a humble bird, pure white in colour, called Manutea. Rehua gave Manutea instructions to travel from Te Toi o Nga Rangi (The Summit of The Heavens) down through the 12 heavens to Papatuanuku (Earth).

When Manutea got to earth, he had to find the highest mountain on earth called Maunganui (Great Mountain).  He became lost and asked Te Whanau Puhi (The Wind Children) for directions to Maunganui. The Wind Children told Manutea, the highest mountain that you are actually looking for is Maunga Tea. So Manutea found Maungatea and it was here that Taane was summoned to receive the karere (message) from Rehua that Io Matua Kore (Io the Parentless who was always existent without beginning or end) wanted Taane to climb the heavens and retrieve the sacred wananga (baskets of knowledge).

Taane told Manutea that he officially accepted the message and would make his way to Te Puhi o Nga Rangi Tuhaha (The Summit of the Heavens). Satisfied, Manutea returned to Te Toi o Nga Rangi (First heavens) to Rehua. As a gift to Manutea, Rehua transformed his tinana (body) to black to represent Te Kore (The Void) and his journey through the 12 heavens. Rehua added more feathers to his tail to make 12 in total and left the white tips to mark the 12 heavens. Manutea was given a new name to go along with the new look – Manu Huia or the Huia Bird. As Rehua was transforming Manutea he recited a special chant:

Ko te tangi a te manu
Hui, hui, hui hui mai
Huia i runga
Huia i raro
Huia i roto
Huia i waho
Huia te muka tangata mai Hawaiki

Limited Edition Print

Limited edition of 75 signed prints available on matte paper of museum archival quality called hahnemuhle photo rag 308gsm. Image size is 550mm high x 550mm wide surrounded by an unprinted white border.  Shipping is FREE within NZ and $35 everywhere else (prices are NZD).  Unframed print arrives sealed in protective tube or sleeve.

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Sofia Minson Oil Paintings | New Zealand Artwork