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Kotahitanga | Stand together in formation

Forde, A. (2022). Te Kotahitanga o Whakamaru. Sculpture on the Gulf.  Photo: Maria Noone.
Forde, A. (2022). Te Kotahitanga o Whakamaru. Sculpture on the Gulf. Photo: Maria Noone.

Waiheke Island hosts Sculpture on the Gulf bi-annually. Locals get free access before 9am and after 5pm (that said locals are encouraged to donate a few dollars on entry). In 2022 the sculptures did not disappoint, and the walk around Matiatia headland was stunning. Towards the end of the walk standing tall on the hillside was a significant piece of work called, Te Kotahitanga o Whakamaru (Forde, 2022). The sculptor Anton Forde had carved fifty-five contemporary pou. The pou stood watch over the Hauraki Gulf in kao kao, arrow formation. Each was 7-8 foot tall adorned with a stone pounamu. The chest of each pou was marked with the band of a korowai. The sun resting on each.   


My breath was taken away. Instantly I thought of the quote by author Linda Hogan, “Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” (Hogan, 1996, p.159). All I wanted was to pack a sleeping bag, sneak back and stay overnight amongst these celestial beings. Be with them, watching out over the Gulf. To just be, sit and listen

[Clip of Anton Forde's sculpture overlooking the gulf from Waiheke Island.]

The pou represent many aspects of our cultural heritage. A formation of people in haka, standing together, tūpuna behind you, guardians watching over you, wairua kaitiaki looking over the people and whenua, elder wisdom watching over our human ways. This formation reminded me how the pou shows the strength of standing together with others. Standing with others is a necessity of life, and it can also be a person’s kryptonite. By either being relied on too much or the opposite occurring where one’s voice gets lost in the crowd.  


We all need to have people in our lives with whom we resonate. Where there is an equilibrium of encouragement and richness. This does not always mean there is agreement and we get told what we may not want to hear, but the overall premise of intention is the same. Being part of new formations helps us have awareness of the times we are facing, what matters to people and where their perspectives are held. In doing this we do not have to give up or forget what we know and like. But that we can stand together strong. Through collaborations of relevant input a great many actions and outcomes can be achieved.

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