National | Arts

Waikato-Tainui morn the loss of renowned master carver

Waikato-Tainui mourns the loss of one of the tribe's renowned master carvers, Herekotuku Leonard Muru, 81, of Ngāti Whātua and Waikato descent.

Muru played a huge part in many Kingitanga projects including the commissioning of the war canoe, Tāhere Tikitiki II.

“He was a meek man, got on with everyone, who upheld to the traditions of the King Movement and teachings of Te Puea,” said elder Mamae Takarei (Waikato, Hauraki, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Tūhoe).

A helmsman, paddler and regional champion axe-man of his time, Herekotuku's handiwork showcases the shallow and fine carving style of Waikato at Tūrangawawae Marae, the community and Tumu Kōrero at Waahi Pā that depicts the history of the King Movement.

“His work was in demand during of Te Ātairangi Kaahu's reign in which he carved gifts she presented to her distinguished guests from overseas,” says Takarei.

Raised under the tutelage of master carver Piripi Poutapu at the Te Ranga Poutapu Carving School, Muru was part of the construction of Taheretikitiki II, started in 1971 as request by Te Arikinui Te Ātairangi Kaahu and completed the next year.

“Piripi saw this as a way to build the war canoe, to showcase his knowledge and be an exemplar for the generations of carvers to follow.  That's how Tāhere Tikitiki II was built.”

“The first (Tāhere Tikitiki) was gifted by Ngāti Whātua to Pōtatau Te Wherowhero in 1892.”

Muru is survived by his wife Panekuhukuhu and their four children and many grandchildren.  He will be laid to rest among his ancestors on Taupiri Mountain tomorrow.