29 Nov 2011

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Dr Takirirangi Smith tohunga whakairo master carver to receive Honorary Doctorate

Victoria University will confer an honorary degree on Dr Takirirangi Clarence Smith, a master carver in Maori carving. He will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Literature.

Dr Takirirangi Clarence Smith is a tohunga whakairo, a master carver, whose work can be found throughout New Zealand and overseas. The rare title of tohunga has been bestowed on him in recognition of his knowledge and artistry.

Dr Smith studied at Victoria in the 1980s, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Maori Studies in 1984 and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Maori Studies the following year. During this time he led the carving of Victoria University's meeting house, Te Tumu Herenga Waka.

After graduating from Victoria, Takirirangi Smith went on to supervise and carve nine other meeting houses, as well as numerous waharoa (entrances), pou (carved figures), and pataka (raised storehouses). He is also interested in traditional navigation and has carved twelve waka.

His works can be found throughout the world, notably at the New Zealand Consulate in Shanghai, China, the St Louis Museum in the United States, and the Museum Volkenkunde in Holland. He completed a PhD in Education at the University of Auckland in 2007.

Professor Pat Walsh says Takirirangi Smith has played an important role in Maori art and culture.

"He has made a significant contribution to Maori carving and, more broadly, Maori knowledge. Takirirangi Smith's work displays high artistic skill and historical understanding.

"As a young man, Dr Smith carved Victoria University's meeting house, which is recognised nationwide for its pan-tribal representation. He has also been carving a new entrance-way to Te Herenga Waka Marae that will be unveiled as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the carved meeting house on 6 December."

Victoria December Graduation-honorary degree

At Victoria's December Graduation, Honorary Degrees will also be conferred on: Dr Ross Ferguson, the international authority on kiwifruit biology; and Dr Jack Richards, a renowned specialist in second and foreign language teaching.