Initially I went to Te Papa with the super hi tech spy camera I bought off Trademe with the idea of taking a few surreptitious snaps of the hoe/paddle to show the pattern.
It was collected by one James Cook from Fiordland between 1769-1771.
As can be seen, it has a kowhaiwhai pattern based on the fern frond which is still visible, despite being 200 years old and surviving a similar number of Christmas parties in various British institutions since Captain Cook took it back where it was a key feature in the ancient Pommy museum Yuletide tradition of scooting around on one’s arse on a polished wooden floor with a native paddle, singing a song about going up the Far Canal. If my sources on such things are to be trusted.
Anyway, the point of this is that I wanted to use the kowhaiwhai pattern as the basis for the high collars of the uniforms. Because it is from Fiordland 200 years ago, I am pretty sure there will be no iwi claiming cultural ussurpation, and because it went via Captain James Cook it kind of gets a get out of jail card free thingy for cultural ussurpation. Anyway, it is on display at the fifth floor at Te Papa.
So I skulked, real suave like, around the paddle, taking a few notes, while I waited for a couple of Te Papa people – who were standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BLOODY THING for quarter of an hour – to bugger off. Eventually they did, thank ghod, because I’d had to spend my time in the display about, oh, let’s say global warming, and saving the planet, and after 10 minutes of that I wanted to kill the anuses behind it, so I thought best to leave.
Using my bull whip to swing down from the rafters I got back to the paddle without being picked up by Te Papa’s Cultural Ussurpation Surveillance Squad and snapped some quick shots. Checking they were razor sharp, I eluded the Te Papa guides by yelling out: “Freeze, it’s the Taste Police! Lay down now and take off those god-awful shirts!”
While a surprisingly high number of them complied, I scurried out the door cackling maniacally having stuck it to the Culture Czars one more time. It’s our culture, man, free our culture.
Of course, when I got back to the office, and the euphoria of the adrenaline had worn off (oh that sweet, sweet adrenaline rush of busting through Te Papa’s security cordon of middle aged dumpy women and bearded men. Oh, and Roger Gascoigne too, by the way. He’s pretty well preserved. Great hair too!)
… sorry, I lost the thread of that.
Needless to say, the pics were crap. Steve Wonder could have done better.
Working under the principle that Te Papa is actually keen to get these things seen, I hit the googlerama key and the goddam thing was top of the list. So I pinched the pics. And here they are. There are more on the separate Paddle page where they can be viewed with a minimum of prose and dribble.
The hoe/paddle is itself a perfect melding of form and function. Pity the whole Colin McCahon area isn’t converted into the Rita Angus Pavilion but there you go, that’s Te Papa, ya gotta take the good with the god awful.
What I did here was muck around with the gamma settings and the contrast to try and bring out the patterns a bit more.
And just for no particular reason, here is a fern frond unfolding which I think the hoe captures nicely. (Though quite frankly, I think one of the patterns looks just like a thingy …)
And as I gazed upon it, I thought, hey, wait a minute. I’ve seen that before somewhere. And it didn’t take me long to find the source of this.
Check out these two pics. Uncanny? Yes I think so too.