The conceptualisation of the installation resides in the whakatauki (proverb): “te kohao o te ngira.” A well known proverb spoken by the first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, this message of unity and holding fast to ideals and principles is one the education provider ascribes to. It refers to the philosophy of everyone passing through the eye of the needle to reach their destination - in this case, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and it’s principles, values and ideals. This installation was commissioned by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, one of NZ’s largest providers of tertiary education.
As Michael designed the installation and worked alongside other artists and kaumātua (elders) at the organization, he created each of the niho (teeth) to relate to an aspect of learning. The black niho shows a manaia (guardian) with a stylized hand above it, which represents the individual being handed knowledge from above.
The taratara-ā-kai pattern on the red niho refers to another whakatauki: “Ko te manu e kai ana te mātauranga, nōnā te ao – those who feast on knowledge, theirs is the world.” The way that the pattern is woven together alludes to the individual gathering together the morsels of knowledge on their learning journey.
The white niho is a stylized form of a tree—representing the individual growing taller into the light of knowledge, striving and reaching for the attainment of understanding and wisdom.
Because the form of the three works could be said to be tooth-like, the installation has come to be known as “niho” meaning teeth.
Michael Matchitt was approached by graduating students of the St Paul’s Collegiate School to help them design a legacy project for the school. This first of a three piece carved installation encapsulates the values and aspirations of St Paul’s Collegiate School. It is a visual representation of the interconnected cultures, beliefs and values in the school’s strong character and tradition. It also refers to the influences of the past, present, and future, which guide students to become meaningful contributors to society.
The Tauihu is the prow of a waka (canoe). As such it leads the way, guiding the waka into the future. Representing Saint Paul, this piece acknowledges the significance of Christianity in the culture of the school.
Front: The abstract figure of Saint Paul has a halo behind his head and a korowai (cloak) around his shoulder to acknowledge his mana (prestige and authority). There is surface patterning in the form of a number of traditional patterns. These represent the Christian values of the school. Below this is a crucifix enhanced with a pākati design which represents the whakapapa (genealogy) of Christianity.
Back: This has surface patterning in the form of a number of traditional patterns. These represent the Christian values of the school.
The Walk of Fame was opened in 2009 with the purpose of recognising and celebrating Te Awamutu’s outstanding achievers.
In 2011 when the decision was made to extend the walk, traditional Māori carver Michael Matchitt was approached to design a gateway, or “waharoa”. The waharoa acts as a focal point and entry point through which visitors can enter the town’s celebratory walk. Here, they learn about the lives and achievements of those who have contributed to the development and character of the town and district.
The design of the waharoa is in the shape of a waka (canoe), which is in reference to the name of the town. Te Awamutu, meaning “the river’s end,” is the furthest point up the Waipa river that a waka could traditionally travel.
The surface patterning is mata kupenga, a net pattern used to represent the gathering in of people though the entryway.