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Students' whakairo works showcased

Among Boys’ High students’ boundary-pushing whakairo works showcased in an exhibition last week was student Jiaxi Du’s piece that was dominated by Chinese motifs and Qing dynasty “flood hero”, Yu Chen Long.

“Yu Chen Long told the people how to control the flood and make it go from north China to south China,” said Jiaxi.

The script down the red banner on the right-hand side of the panel reads “fish become dragons”.

The large, red Chinese carp on the left of the work is a symbol of strength and perseverance, the goldfish on the right is a symbol of good luck, while the lotus flower represents peace, said Jiaxi.

Yu Chen Long, the flood hero, wears on his chest a panel that depicts a crane that seems to rise off a band of overlapping concentric circles that were originally used in China on ancient maps to depict the sea.

“In the Qing dynasty, people had different pictures on their clothes. If you had a crane you were a leader under the emperor.”

The spiral motifs in the bottom part of the work combine traditional Maori koru with a similar Chinese motif that represents clouds.

Jiaxi Du’s piece in the Boys' High Whakairo Exhibition was dominated by Chinese motifs and Qing dynasty “flood hero”, Yu Chen Long. Picture by Mark Peters
TANGAROA: Tiger Spring’s carved panel, on the other hand, is dominated by a strong manaia motif that encroaches on the frame. The manaia signifies Tangaroa, god of the ocean, said Tiger. “The manaia can represent many things. This is how I see Tangaroa. It just happened to come to me and I stuck with it. My uncle used to carve and I used to watch him. I never thought I’d do it. My father asked me if I’d like to do whakairo and when I did I liked it. Last year was my first in whakairo. I want to do something next year but bigger.” Picture by Mark Peters