Kōwhaiwhai are Māori motifs and are a visual expression of Māori culture, made of intricate and curving linear patterns. They are a way to tell a story and each one has its own meaning. Kōwhaiwhai patterns are visible in wharenui, on waka or on other forms of carving.In visual arts at the Year 5 and 6 , students “investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures” to allow them to understand the arts in context. They are able to develop ideas “in response to different motivations, adding their own observations and imagination.” (NZ Curriculum) Even though they are a traditional art form, kōwhaiwhai patterns continue to evolve and, as contemporary artists, students may incorporate new techniques, materials, and styles.
Kōwhaiwhai art is also geometric and repeated patterns can be seen. Andy’s kōwhaiwhai art, entitled ‘Tapuwae’ (Speed), shows the translation of a puhoro pattern, or split koru, representing speed, swiftness and agility. This is featured in our curriculum for Year 5 and 6 students as transformation, where students describe the transformations (reflection, rotation, translation, or enlargement) that map one object onto another. (NZ Curriculum)