Christian man indulges in 19th century missionary bigotry… Jun 15, 2019 18:02:50 GMT 10
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Jun 15, 2019 18:02:50 GMT 10
Tararua man cuts phallus from carving representing Rangitāne whakapapa
Iwi are upset over vandalism of a carved ancestral figure. The chainsaw-wielding culprit is not remorseful.
By PAUL MITCHELL | 10:01AM — Saturday, 15 June 2019
Rangitāne carver Craig Kawana, left, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Te Manawa executive Hone Morris with the sculpture Milton Wainwright
believed to be obscene and an affront to Christian decency. — Photograph: Murray Wilson.
A VOLUNTEER in Tararua who lopped a phallus from a Māori carving with a chainsaw, has gone from hero to zero in the eyes of his community.
The figure was part of a set of carvings called Te Hononga Maunga, which offered welcome and safe passage to all who hiked along the Manawatū Gorge Reserve walking track.
But Milton Wainwright, who considers himself a devoted Christian, deemed the statue's penis to be obscene and immoral, so he tried to cut it off with a hand saw in mid-April. It proved difficult, so he returned the next morning with a mini chainsaw and reduced the phallus to sawdust.
Wainwright, who owns the Woodville Organ Museum, had been a caretaker of the reserve for many years. He has earned the community's praise and admiration for his volunteer work maintaining the gorge walking tracks. But now he has earned himself a charge of wilful damage.
When the public learned of the vandalism from a post on a Tararua community Facebook page this week, the reaction was furious — much to the culprit's surprise.
“I never dreamt the Māori would be so offended… As one commenter said, I've gone from hero to zero,” he said.
Milton Wainwright took to the carving with a chainsaw, believing it was a moral imperative to remove its phallis. — Photograph: arwick Smith.
Rangitāne carver, Craig Kawana, who created Te Hononga Maunga, was upset but deferred to the wishes of Rangitāne kaumatua to not publicly discuss the matter while it was before the courts.
The carving had been installed on the track at Ballance Domain in December.
Wainwright said he knew altering the carving without permission would be met with some disapproval, and Mayor Tracey Collis had even warned him not to touch it after he had made complaints to Tararua District Council, the Department of Conservation and police.
However, he couldn't recall seeing phalluses on other Māori carvings, and believed the sculpture was beyond the pale. It was a moral imperative to remove it from public view.
“But I was very careful, the last thing I wanted was to make a mess of the carving and doubly offend. If someone hadn't seen it before, they would think the carver had carved it that way.”
Wainwright believed there was a distinction between such carvings and, for example, Michelangelo's David.
He said the public know to expect some nudity in art when visiting a gallery or museum, and could choose whether to take children inside. But to place it on a public walkway, people may not expect it.
Massey University professor of Maōri visual arts and culture Bob Jahnke said cutting the phallus off the carving was a grave insult to Rangitāne
because it was a symbolic neutering of the whole iwi.
Massey University professor of Māori visual arts and culture Bob Jahnke said both male and female figures with genitalia were powerful and significant traditional symbols in Māori carving.
They represent an iwi's mana and the continuation of its whakapapa, every ancestor and every future descendent to ever birth a new generation.
Wainwright's removal of the carving's phallus was an insult to Rangitāne so grave that Jahnke felt it himself, even though he was Ngāti Porou.
“It's upsetting just to hear about it … it's a symbolic neutering of the whole iwi.”
Wainwright's actions were an unwelcome throwback to the disrespect Māori culture was afforded in the colonial era — when Christian missionaries used to cut the genitalia out of sacred carvings wherever they saw them.
“These instances of missionary prudery, particularly in Northland, almost led to the loss of an entire [traditional] carving style.”
Wainwright has been banned from the walking track for two years by the Department of Conservation and is to appear in Dannevirke Court in July.
Related to this topic:
• Gorge walk entrance opened by conservation minister