MāoriGrl, Kōwhai and Ngā Tohu o Te Kawerau a Maki: Some Things to See This Matariki
Written by Lana Lopesi
Graphic Matters is a monthly column on issues and ideas related to New Zealand Design Culture
Every year in mid-winter Matariki rises into the sky, providing us here in Aotearoa with a time of reflection and new beginnings. Our national Matariki celebrations seems to grow in strength, scope and size every year. This year I’ve picked my own list of five Matariki treats for your eyes (other than night sky itself of corse).
Please note that this is just a very small selection of a the many hundreds of events going on around the country! For more events check the website of your local Matariki celebration.
1. Te Kawerau a Maki is the host iwi for Auckland’s Matariki Festival this year. Their hosting of the festival coincides with Ngā Tohu o Te Kawerau a Maki: The People, their Stories and Treasures, an exhibition at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi. In the exhibition Te Kawerau a Maki present a collection of images of tūpuna (forebears) and taonga (treasures) to remember and celebrate their heritage as they work toward a better future. Visitors can learn about the rāhui currently in effect and what we all can do, as caretakers of Papatūānuku and kauri, to help with the resurgence and renewal of kauri in our forests. The exhibition opens at 10am Saturday 30 June.
2. Another visual feast which I am excited to see is MāoriGrl by Kahurangiariki Smith at Depot Artspace. Kahurangiariki Smith combines installation and video game to reinvent the story of Hine tītama / Hine nui te pō, the goddess of death in Māori mythology. MāoriGrl serves as a visual reference to this story with bright colours, creating a naive atmosphere in the gaming world – a stark contrast to realities of Hine nui te pō embracing the deceased.
3. Two Matariki student exhibtions by Design Assembly schools I would recommend seeing are Media Arts Matariki Project at Wintec and Matariki Postgraduate Exhibition: School of Art and Design at AUT. The Wintec student exhibition opens on Wednesday 13 June until Wednesday 20 June. For the show a team of Media Arts Communication students have created short video clips celebrating Matariki. Graphic design students have each created their own visual representation about themes surrounding Matariki and fashion students have each created garment pieces inspired by the cultural traditions of Matariki. The exhibition at AUT includes students graduating from the Master of Design and Master of Cultural and Creative Practice and is open from Thursday 14 June until Thursday 21 June.
4. Something fun to do with the family one evening will be Pou Rama designed by design company Storybox, in collaboration with visual artist Desna Whaanga-Schollum (Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Pahauwera). The Pou Rama or light Posts are inspired by pouwhenua (land symbols of support) and represent creative wairua (inspiration), which is generated from te taiao (the environment). The whakairo designs express cycles of creativity and connections to place. This public installation is on view at Aotea Square from Saturday 30 June, 5pm onwards.
5. And last but certainly not least my final pick is Kōwhai by Aydriannah Tuiali’i at Māngere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku. In this kaleidoscopic video work, Aydriannah Tuiali’i explores the whakawhanaungatanga between moving image, kapa haka and waiata. Kōwhai echoes the artist’s ongoing commitment to the immersive experience of learning te reo Māori.
Feature image: Kōwhai, Aydriannah Tuiali’i