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Article  •  1 July 2017

 

What's in a cover?

The symbolism of Black Marks on the White Page's jacket illustration. 

We break down the symbolism of James Ormsby’s stunning jacket illustration, ‘Tangia te papa ma ki te pango (Mark the white board with black)’:

 

1. WHAKAPAPA

Beginning with Te Kore (the void or chaos state between non-being and being), the aho (fishing lines) flow out to Te Ao Marama (the world of light) and twist into a korowai (a cloak) of whakapapa or history . . .

2. MAP

The Polynesian islands (and Papua New Guinea and Melanesia), while Aotearoa lies under the aho lines.

3. CIRCLE

The cycles of history held within aho lines and alluding to the appearance of the ocean, whakapapa and meaningful marks of writing.

4. EXODUSES

Two taurapa (stern posts of waka/canoe) indicate the first migrations over the horizons and into our Pacific and Maori worlds.

5. HAND

The guiding hand of exploration, discovery, expansion and colonisation, with a background shadow of a three-fingered atua (influential ancestor), suggesting prophetic dreams, faith, hope and courage.

6. STARS

All appears under the Matariki (the Seven Sisters or Pleiades), our Southern Hemisphere orientation point.

7. ENDEAVOUR

A taniwha form with a flaming poi sits atop Cook’s Endeavour, bringing Western sciences, languages, grammar, measurement, time, but also – as the swarm leaving the ship indicates – a second colonising migration, which opened up and pealed back the whakapapa.

8. EXODUSES

The aho lines weave on into our multicultural future led by a tauihu (bow, prow or figurehead of a waka/canoe).

9. NORTH STAR

The aho lines spread outwards and onwards influencing the Northern Hemisphere orientation point (as Matariki is for the Southern Hemisphere).


Black Marks on the White Page Witi Ihimaera, Tina Makereti

'A collection to be savoured.'

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