Ko Tautoro te Pito o toku Ao
Ko Tautoro, Te Pito o Tōku Ao is Ngāpuhi elder Hōne Sadler’s powerful account of the origins, history and culture of the Ngāpuhi people. In this work Sadler illustrates the unbroken chain of Ngāpuhi sovereignty by looking in-depth at his own hapū of Ngāti Moerewa, Ngāti Rangi and Ngāi Tawake ki te Waokū of Tautoro and Matarāua. The narrative is told through weaving together karakia and whakapapa, histories and kōrero that have been part of the oral traditions of Ngāpuhi’s whānau, hapū and iwi and handed down through the generations on marae and other gathering places.
The cover design was inspired by Sadler’s whakapapa, the content of the book, and my own interest in Art deco patterns at the time. While exploring carving from Te Taitokerau and the far north I came across the intricately carved papahou (treasure-boxes). As vessels used to hold taonga (prized possessions), I decided to use the papahou patterns to protect the taonga held within Sadler’s book, this being the whakapapa of Nga Puhi nui tonu. The final pattern created is based on the tara or female genitalia. This is because in Māori carving the tara is seen as a powerful protective element.
The colours (red, blue and cream) for the design along with the geometric design elements on the cover were all borrowed from the United Tribes of New Zealand flag. This was because He Whakaputanga, New Zealand’s declaration of Independence 1835, features prominently in Sadler’s discussion around Ngā Puhi and the fact that we never ceded sovereignty to the Crown.