Location: Roslin Street children’s play area
Material: Totara, On concrete plinth.
Artist: Bernard Kamboi
Definition of Name:
New Guinea Pole – “Pole carving from New Guinea.”
Interpretation of Definition:
New Guinea Pole – Carved pole, located in, or drawing inspiration from New Guinea.
Meaning of the Sculpture/Carving:
This work features a warrior from the Highlands wearing a special headdress and holding a spear, this work is one done, in an almost cultural part one and two conjunction with his other piece, a crocodile which contains a story of initiation. Each figure is produced in such honest detail that you get the impression that they could easily come to life and quite happily wander off. Bernard’s tribal area in Papua New Guinea has taken the crocodile as its symbol. He carves one into any sculpture he does, whether it big or small. He believes the authenticity and passion his community hold for their arts, can be seen through the tribal symbol that has been carved.
What is impressive about Bernard’s work is the way he gets it to look more like sculpture than carving.
The Totara log used in this Talking Pole was donated by Te Putahitanga O Nga Ara Trust.
Totara can be found in both the North Island and the South Island, although it is mostly found in the Central North Island region, and in lowland reserves. The Totara tree can grow up to two and a half metres in diameter, with older and larger trees becoming hollow. The tree is identified by its dark brown trunk with bark that looks similar to paper strips coming away from the tree. The heartwood of Totara can be seen as a common brown reddish colour, the sapwood is a lighter shade of brown. Growth rings are present in the tree and are very distinctive as they are usually evenly spaced. The wood of the tree has a straight grain, which allows it to be easily split, the wood is also very fine and has an even texture that has an attractive finish.
“My name is Bernard Kamboi and I am from a village on the banks of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. My home is now Wewak in the East Sepik Province, where I live with my wife and four children. All my family are carvers from the village of Tambunam, which is famous for its very fine carving style. Like my brothers and cousins, I started to carve as a boy, watching my father and the men of the village. Carving poles is something I am very familiar with as every clan in the Sepik has its own post where all the decisions of the village are made. Every clan has its own spirit pole which shows the history and ancestral spirits belonging to that clan. I have been to school to Grade 6 and have travelled to other parts of Papua New Guinea where I have carved. This is my first time outside Papua New Guinea. Carving in New Zealand is a once in a lifetime experience that is beyond any of my dreams and expectations in life.”
Bernard was also one of our international artists in the 2004 Symposium.