Ngutu Kura (Whale) Kowhaiwhai Pattern with Image of Carving on the Tray
Below information is printed on the back of the tray for your reference:
Maori tribes have a long association and strong cultural affinities to Whales. In some Maori cosmology, Whales are the descendants of Tangaroa, “The God of the Oceans”. Whales appear in the migration legends of many Iwi. In some, Whales were a sign indicating to an Iwi that it should settle in a particular place. In others, Whales were a Kaitiaki/Guide. One of the old terms for Whales was “Ika Moana – Fish of the Sea”. They were part of the family known as “Te Whānau Puha – The Family of Animals that Expel Air”. The name “Tohorā” refers to the Southern Right Whale. Whalers gave the name “Right” Whale to this species because they thought it was the right (correct) Whale to hunt.
The Kohwhaiwhai pattern is called “Ngutu Kura” loosely translated “Red Lips” although the meaning is much greater as the word “Kura” suggests, learning, knowledge, wisdom. The Whale is held in high regard in Maoridom, as a “Kaitiaki, Wisdom, Something of Significance”.
The Whale Fluke symbolises speed, strength, protection, sensitivity; and respect for the sea and nature and luck providing safe passage over water.
Oral histories recall interactions between people and Whales in stories, carvings, patterns and place names as depicted in this carving.