Te Rakau O Mohiotanga – The Tree of Knowledge

Te Rakau O Mohiotanga – The Tree of Knowledge

The tree of knowledge and the tree of life is symbolised in the form of Tane Mahuta (God of the forest). In my image and portrayal of Tane as shown in the form as part man, part tree.

You also find that it is commonly used in family trees. Knowledge comes in your youth, growth, learning and time it is handed down from one generation to the next. The circle of life is shown in many forms in god’s creation, in Tane it’s his immense size and age. To be more specific on the inside of Tane there are rings, the inner rings means youth and the outer rings means maturity, and also shown in the Maori image of the circle of life. In my picture there are many images that all have a connection with each other. Tane’s TaMoko on his forehead represents knowledge, his nose pattern is the first breath of life, the circular patterns on his cheeks refers to his battles, the pattern under the nose refers to his sinus, and the mouth pattern is his vocabulary.

The pattern of the Puhorohoro on Tane’s lower half represents the separation of Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) and Ranginui (Sky father). The roots on his arm symbolise where you come from and the line back to your ancestors and the bond between Mother and child.

In legend told of a sibling brother called Tawhirimatea (god of wind/storm) who disagreed with the separation of their parents to this day. Tawhirimatea siblings ruffle Tane’s leaves, they are the image around Tane’s feet known as NE, SE, NW, SW winds and also points out N, S, E, W.

To the left and right of the four winds there are also pillars that Tane erected to keep his parents separated, on the bottom of the pillars I have illustrated the male on the right hand side and female on the left hand side known as Tamatoa and Wahinetoa and their connection to Tumatuaenga (Maori God of war). After I finished my illustration I was also told of another God of war from the Canterbury plains who had a pet Taniwha with four eyes as you see on our Taiaha’s today. Unknown to myself it looks like the Taniwha on the bottom left hand side has four eyes, he is the Taniwha of the Rakaia river.

On my illustration the Taniwha has eyes but no pupils that is to refer to the eerl [we are unsure of this word in bold], the scales represent the fish, the teeth refers to respect the river or it will bite you. The water is another part of life, air to breath, water to drink, sunlight to grow, we as humans are the guardians and protectors of the land.

Artist and Burnham School parent: Kiu Te Paea