Curves within curves

fern fronds

Ponga (silver fern) fronds — or koru. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Ferns grow abundantly in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the silver fern (ponga) has become one of our most recognisable national symbols, with both leaf and frond used widely in art and branding.

The koru (literally loop in Maori), or unfurled frond, is highly symbolic to Maori. It is frequently depicted across all Maori visual arts (something already mentioned by Ann-Christine in her ‘Curve’ post), and symbolises growth and the continuation of life as well as strength, endurance and power.

Posted to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | curve


Symbolic action

Visitor to Waitangi Marae responds to the wero (challenge) by bending to pick up the taki (in this case a branch) indicating to the people of the marae that his party comes in peace. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Picking up the Taki; an indication that the visitor to this marae comes with peaceful intentions. Image; Su Leslie, 2017

Visiting a marae (Maori meeting ground) begins with a highly symbolic welcome ceremony. As part of that, a young man of the iwi (tribal group) to which the marae belongs will issue a challenge (wero) to the visiting party.

The challenge involves a symbolic demonstration of the iwi’s fighting prowess in the form of the young man and his weapon. It is asking the visitors “do you come here with peaceful intentions?”

A representative of the visiting group (usually a man) accepts the challenge by picking up the taki — a symbolic object which in many cases is a branch (think olive branch in terms of symbolism).

After that the group is welcomed onto the marae.


Visitors, in this case a bride and groom, being welcomed onto the Te Tii Waitangi Marae at Waitangi, Northland, NZ. Su Leslie 2017

You can find out more about this powhiri (welcome process) here.

Posted to Debbie’s One Word Sunday at Travel with Intent



Home, Land and Sea

B&w image of island silhouetted in morning mist. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Early morning, Hobsonville Point. Image: Su Leslie, 2106. Edited with Snapseed.

Home from the energy and bustle of Melbourne, I find myself in need of the moments of quiet to be found on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour that enfolds the place I call home.

Winter is almost here, bringing a dawn that is virutally monochrome — perfect for this week’s black and white theme at Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge.

B& W image. Boats moored off Greenhithe, early morning. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Boats moored off Greenhithe, early morning. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

NZMM2016_jpgI couldn’t think of a better song to celebrate my homecoming than Home, Land and Sea, by Wellington band Trinity Roots. Singer Warren Maxwell introduces the song in this video by quite simply saying “this is about our beautiful country, Aotearoa.”

The song’s opening line, “From the tail of the fish to the top” references the Maori creation myth; that Aotearoa New Zealand was fished from the sea by the god Maui. The South Island is his waka (canoe) while the North Island is the fish itself.

Look at a map of the country — it’s not hard to visualise this. Of course, Maori told this story without benefit of written maps, let alone satellite imagery.