The whakairo that supports the Suzanne Aubert Collection was carved by Whanganui iwi artist/carver Fred Wroe.
Referred to by the artist as a “manaia” this artwork is in the shape of an amo. The amo is the part of a carved house that represents the thigh of the ancestor and is a strong support for the house both physically and spiritually. It is also reminiscent of a bookend commonly used to support a row of books. The shape of the manaia therefore is symbolic of its roll as a spiritual support for the library and to provide inspiration for the seeker of knowledge and learning.
The base or feet of the artwork create a connection to Papatuanuku and yet allow it to travel comfortably with the collection.
The central figure represents the people of the Whanganui River through the ancestors Hine Ngakau, Tamahaki, Tamaupoko and Tupoho.
The kowhaiwhai represent the different hapū and iwi of the Whanganui region with the strong central line representing the Whanganui River.
The myriad of nail holes between and behind the figures and kowhaiwhai represent those who have passed on.
The blue is Ranginui, the heavens with the white representing the Sisters of Compassion past and present.
The tendrils of the hue bind us all together under the mantle of knowledge and learning.
The rear support for the carving and the base bear kowhaiwhai that represent the Wanganui District Council and the Wanganui District Library getting in behind the river community and helping to uplift them.
The taonga will stand as a kaitiaki or spiritual support and protector of the Suzanne Aubert Collection and its users and as a symbol of the Whanganui River Community and its partnership with the Wanganui District Council and Library.