A ceremony led by Rangitane iwi on December 11, 2016, marked the arrival of Nga Huruhuru Rangatira - Feathers of the Chief - onto its site in the eastern corner of The Square.
Nga Huruhuru Rangatira comprises five stylized huia feathers in the form of a 6.4 metre Gothic arch with two feathers on one side opposing three on the other. The use of feathers and huia bird cutouts recall the Tararua Ranges as one the last sanctuaries of the huia prior to its extinction in the early twentieth century. The tri-feather configuration references a motif commonly found on the base of rafters in tribal meeting houses symbolising rangatiratanga. In this instance it acknowledges the mana whenua of Rangitane iwi. The bi-feather composition references the introduction of literacy, the Treaty signatories and Palmerston North as an education centre that promotes both European and Maori knowledge systems.
Founder of the Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts at Massey University over twenty years ago, Professor Robert (Bob) Jahnke is an academic and pioneer in contemporary Maori art. In January 2017, he was acknowledged in the New Year Honors when he was awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to Maori art and education.
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