TED Vellenoweth’s crayfish pot, or taruke, greets visitors as they enter the exhibition. Photos James Sandbrook OB4581-01

THE Nga Taonga a Papatuanuku arts exhibition is winding down in its third week, with its last day at the He Tohu Aroha gallery tomorrow.

Featuring rare loom-woven harakeke, korowai, traditional weavings and more, the exhibition has a strong focus on Maori culture.

On display is a wide variety of creations, all made by students studying native materials and the art that can be made from them.

Tutor Roka Cameron said there were two groups of student works on display, the level threes who studied for 18 weeks and the level fives who studied for 36 weeks.

Ms Cameron said the focus of the course this year had been on respect, or tikanga, which meant respecting the land, materials and culture.

All the art pieces had been made from scratch, with their respective artists gathering and processing their materials over the piece’s creation.

“They’re all made with native materials that our ancestors harvested and used, so we don’t lose those resources, that knowledge and the art,” she said.

Prominently on display at the front of the gallery is a large and fully functional crayfish pot, or taruke, woven from scratch by Ted Vellenoweth.

The trap is made entirely from native materials and comes complete with a long, woven rope and floaters.

While the pot would work for its designed task, Ms Cameron said it would likely serve as a decoration.

This particular taruke was made mainly with supplejack, or pirita wood.

Among her students’ other achievements, Ms Cameron points out two tukutuku, decorative woven panels made to tell a story.

The first, made by Te Raita Ngamoki, tells a story about the cultural studies featured at Otago University.

Another, crafted by Reremoana Frethey, was designed for her son after he competed in the New Zealand rugby sevens.

“It’s about trying to keep the culture alive,” said Ms Cameron.

“I’m very, very proud of these students.”