Te Mata Mātai Hura

Te Mata Mātai Hura

The Investigative Revealing Eye

By Mark Kopua

Mātai means investigate, inquire or inspect

Mātai is also used as a name for the shoreline and/or the food supply from the shoreline, as in, mā means white, (white-water) and tai means tide or sea-water.

The colour scheme of Mātai (shoreline/white sea-water) is portrayed in the dark green colours and the white wording.

In addition the white water is reflected in the large koru (fern frond) that cuts across the lower half of the over all circle of the design.

The koru is an age old symbol of growth, regrowth, regeneration, replenishment and fertility.

A koru also has human like features; it has an eye, a head, neck, body and base so it has long been used in Maori arts to represent somebody/anybody in ancestry.

Cutting diagonally across the right side of the circle is a rau-Huia (sacred Huia feather) Feathers in Maori design symbolism is considered a higher standing/status and depending on the type of bird, like the rare Huia, can represent the extremely sacred and highly prized.

The stem of the feather is the white line that pierces down through the green, through the water, through the distortion and symbolises the search for what lies beneath.

The lower green area is referred to as “Wai-hoa” translated to ‘water-friend’ and is taken from an old Tairawhiti story about an old feared tohunga, Te Hou-taketake, and his first interaction with Rev Williams at Anaura Bay.

It was not a favourable interaction for Rev Williams who, feeling abandoned by his Anaura Bay ‘flock’, abruptly left Anaura for Tokomaru Bay.  Te Hou-taketake was curious about Williams’ abrupt departure and followed him toward Tokomaru. Seeing Williams turning around the Mawhai point, Te Hou quickly turned into a small bay now named “Tuarua”, ‘Second’ after their ‘second’ encounter. He climbed up over a small hillock called “Mihi-marino” ‘peaceful acknowledgement’, where Te Hou spied Williams on his knees, on a flat rock ledge, looking into a pool.  Te Hou called out asking what Williams was doing. Williams told him he was a man looking for a friend, meaning he was communicating with his god, whereupon Te Hou instructed him that he would find his friend by looking into the pool.  Upon that Williams saw his own reflection and realised that Te Hou was correct. Hence the pool was called “Wai-hoa”, ‘water-friend’. These two remained respectful friends up till Te Hou died.

The top left quadrant follows the imagery from the Maatai booklet but in this case it represents the story of Uepoto a god from the Maori creation story who through all the darkness that the gods existed saw a tiny speck of light that stimulated his curiosity and his search for other ways of existence, hence Uepoto is the god of curiosity and the light he saw was called the Hinaatore which is the Maori word for ‘potential.’