Did you know that the seven pou (figures) on The Strand in Tauranga were created by local carver James Tapiata to represent Matariki?
From left to right, when looking at the pou from The Strand:
The first figure, Kahui Matariki, is dressed in a dog skin cloak to reflect the status Matariki holds in the universe. He faces Mauao as a sign of respect to the mountain. It incorporates two other constellations: Tiheru (the Bailer), depicted by two full paua shells on the lower back and Tautoru (Orion), the three smaller shells in an arch on the shoulder. The mokomoko (lizard) sits at the back of the head and is symbolic of Maui's journey from Te Wao Tapu nui a Tane (the sacred garden of Tanenuiarangi) to Te Aoturoa (the state we are in now).
The second figure is Tupu a Nuku rising from the earth. The koru on top is enveloped by four manaia. The manaia are carved in styles from the South Island, East Coast, Taranaki and Northland. Collectively they represent Nga Hau e Wha (the four winds) and the four seasons.
The third figure, Tupu a Rangi, deals with the navigational aspects of Matariki. He holds a navigational instrument in his right hand and extends his left hand out to the horizon.
Waita, the fourth figure, tells of the travels undertaken by Māori with the hoe (paddle) upright in salute. There is also a modern day reference to the travels that we take in our own lives. This is shown by the unfilled ritorito pattern around the shoulders.
The fifth figure, Waiti, depicts the food-bringing aspect of Matariki. The hands hold kumara (sweet potato) from the garden, and pikopiko (fern fronds) from the forest. Fish are seen on the left leg and a kereru (pigeon) on the right. The ritorito pattern on the upper lip is filled, indicating that the potential is also filled in a physical sense.
The sixth figure is Waipuna a Rangi. The spiral design portrays the water that hails the arrival of Matariki and the life giving properties of water. The three manaia at the top represent the three iwi (tribes) of Tauranga Moana: Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Pukenga.
Ururangi, the seventh figure, is carved in the Tainui style paying homage to the links Tauranga Māori have with Kingitanga. The twelve figures represent the Tekaumarua (the Council of Elders), and the main feature represents the Waikato River.