Te Kāhui o Matariki
Te kāhui whetū o Matariki, he huihuinga tātai i te rangi me te whenua.
The rise of Matariki marks a renewal of time and place, for people. With Te Kāhui o Matariki, leading Māori artists imbue contemporary and traditional artworks with a sense of respect and aroha for their late peers, friends and teachers: Te Aue Davis, Colleen Waata Urlich and Manos Nathan.
In addition, this month-long exhibition at Toi Matarau is a creative response to COVID-19 thanks to artists who fashioned new works during the recent national lockdown. “Stories, experiences, and memories of time, place and people, culminate with content creation, and new access that utilises digital technology.”
“Pūmanawa mai ai te aho tapu o te tangata; e kore e motuhia e ngā puna waihanga”
Nau mai, kuhu mai ki te whare taonga o Māoriland. Welcome to the launch of the first exhibition event at the Māoriland Hub since the national lockdown. Rising as one with Matariki, we open our doors to Toi Matarau and the online digital exhibition.
Artists have contributed in diverse ways to this tribute for our honoured exemplars: to give thanks for their legacy and gratitude for their inspiration. And, to express their aroha to the families of Colleen, Manos and Te Aue.
On behalf of the Kaitiaki Toi, Tumu Whakarae, Trustees and whānau at Māoriland we express our aroha to everyone who has supported this kaupapa. It has borne fruit because of the generosity and encouragement of artists from around the country including: Ngā Kaihanga Uku, Rhonda Halliday, Sonia Snowden, June Northcroft-Grant, Alex Nathan, Wi Taepa, Darcy Nicholas, Garry Nicholas, Sandy Adsett, Tā Derek Lardelli, Gabrielle Belz and Elizabeth Ellis.
We also acknowledge the curatorial support of artists Pip Devonshire and Neke Moa in preparing this exhibition.
Nei rā te mihi kau ake, otirā tēnā rawa atu koutou e ngā kaihāpai katoa. Tihewa Mauri Ora!
In humble gratitude, Te Kāhui o Matariki is dedicated to Colleen Waata Urlich, Te Aue Davis and Manos Nathan.
A gallery and online exhibition by contributing artists of the 2008 publication ‘Te Kāhui o Matariki’ co-edited by Colleen Waata Urlich and Libby Hakaraia, and photographed by Norman Heke.
Colleen Waata Urlich
Te Popoto o Ngā Puhi ki Kaipara, Te Rarawa
Colleen was born in Te Kopuru, Northland. Largely a self-taught artist and celebrated Māori ceramicist of Aotearoa, the Pacific and abroad she is the matriarch of clay and ceramics. Her passion for art began in 1956 with her high school art teacher and renowned artist, Fred Graham who focused a lot of his energy on nurturing her, being the sole Māori student in his art classes.
A mother and teacher of 40 years, Colleen later returned to study where she gained a Master of Fine Arts with honours from the Elam School of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Applied Arts. She conducted research on the influence of Lapita pottery patterns within the Pacific, the basis of her Master of Fine Arts influencing her clay work. Much of her creations were based on customary knowledge, often acknowledging Pacific genealogy and female Māori deities. Mentored by the late Reverend Maori Marsden in Mātauranga Māori related to uku (clay) this was profoundly important in providing a philosophical and spiritual foundation to her clay practice, reflecting themes underlying the formation of Ngā Kaihanga Uku
‘working with clay means working with the body of Mother Earth, she who influences and sustains us physically and spiritually.’
Colleen’s work has been exhibited throughout Aotearoa; in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Colleen was dedicated to the development of Māori Art; sculpting, moulding and nurturing through education, mentoring, being involved in Māori Arts collectives, producing art and curating exhibitions. Over the years she encouraged and supported many who have gone on to become inspirational artists as well.
In the 2015 New Year’s Honour List, Colleen was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit acknowledging her services to Māori art.
‘No one ever gets by, by themselves. My iwi, my marae, Toi Māori Aotearoa, Ngā Kaihanga Uku, particularly the artists collective of Te Taitokerau and their superb artists – this is really a recognition of all those people.’
The founding curator of Toi Ngā Puhi, the largest exhibition of Ngā Puhi and Māori arts in Aotearoa and flagship of the Ngā Puhi Festival in Kaikohe, Northland. Colleen’s legacy of toi Māori continues to thrive amongst her people in Te Taitokerau, Māori artists and indigenous friends across the ocean.
Te Roroa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Cretan
Born of Māori and Greek whakapapa, Manos is remembered and admired as one of the country’s pioneering ceramicists and Māori clay artists. His creative background originates from woodcarving and sculpture, taught by his father Eruera Nathan. One example is the carving of their whare nui at Matatina Marae on ancestral whenua in Waipoua, Northland. His clay works speak as traditional forms and narratives of ancient cosmological knowledge and creation stories.
In the 1980s Manos lead and influenced the Māori ceramic movement over four decades and his legacy continues to amongst second and third generation Māori clay artists. He actively promoted Contemporary Māori art for many years and in 1986 co-founded Ngā Kaihanga Uku (affectionately known as the ‘muddies’), the national Māori clay worker’s collective with fellow clay artists; Colleen Waata Urlich, Paerau Corneal, Baye Riddell and Wi Taepa. He was a founder and member of many Māori arts committees and initiatives such as Te Atinga, Te Waka Toi and Ngā Puna Waihanga (Te Taitokerau Branch, 1986) and Toi Ngā Puhi where the Ngā Puhi Festival became the largest iwi based Māori exhibition in Aotearoa lead by Colleen Waata Urlich and supported by artist and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Puhi representative Allen Wihongi.
In 1989 Manos and his friend, fellow clay worker Baye Riddell were awarded a New Zealand Cultural Development grant from the Fullbright Scholarship Fund to travel to the United States. During this time, they made connections exchanging visits making lifelong friendships with many Native American potters and artists across Arizona and New Mexico in the Southwest and over time in the Northwest.
Works by Manos are held in museums, galleries and private collections throughout the world.
‘You find what you are comfortable doing. I am really comfortable with what I do and how I’ve got to that place and why I am doing it.’ – Manos Nathan
Hikurangi te maunga
Waiapu te awa
Ngāti Porou te iwi
Marotiri te maunga
Hauini te manga
Ruataupare te hapū
Ko Baye Pewhairangi Riddell ahau
Working with clays from my family land gives me a deep sense of connection to my tīpuna and to my whenua. I use a range of techniques to produce and fire the work.
Themes evolve in parallel, cross-connect and develop over years of exploring the limitless permutations and combinations of form, scale, texture, surface treatment and firing technique.
A group of 3 clay works
Chris Karaitiana Bryant
Ngāti Porou, European
Toi Iho Licenced artist
In our millennial age, we openly embrace and celebrate Matariki within our communities. Perhaps we should also return to other related customs inspired by Matariki; that of preserving fruit and vegetables grown from your own back yard, your neighbour’s back yard and from nearby growers within your community. This too was a familiar sight and smell in many Māori homes during the 1960s and in the generations before them. After all, our grandparents found some solace within the suburban landscape, to ease the tribal dislocation, bright lights and fast food.
Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi
Diane is a multimedia artist; painter, weaver, installation art practitioner, set designer and tutor at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki. She has exhibited nationwide and internationally for many years expressing perspectives on kaupapa Māori, especially Māori politics, Māori women’s issues and Māori rights through her art forms.
Ngā Puhi, Te Āti Awa
I would not be the maker I am without my whānau. Especially Mum, Gabrielle Belz, who made art in our home extraordinary and normal at the same time. Growing up with someone who had such a strong visual language was a huge gift. Her matter of factness made craft not a difficult choice, but the logical one. Sometimes I say,
‘I just make jewellery’
but coming from a family of people who delight in language and human connection has taught me that almost everything has a story and most objects are more than ‘just’ objects.
As well as Mum, I am incredibly grateful to Colleen, Te Aue and Manos for their extraordinary generosity and knowledge.
Materials: Oxidised sterling silver, 24 karat gold
Photo Credit: Leigh Mitchell-Anyon
This work is one of the results of a project I did a few years ago where I asked people to contribute objects and stories that would inform new objects.
This necklace is the piece I made in response to my sister’s contribution.
In her words, ‘The object belonged to my mother’s father’s mother (my middle namesake). It was a necklace made of red branch coral which had at some point been restrung.
To me the object represents big jewellery, which I like, and Grandmothers, which I also like.’ The original piece was made by our great, great grandfather who was a jeweller. I made a quick version in wood, which I spray painted red, and then a more restrained version in oxidised sterling silver that referenced the branch structure of coral.
As I was making both pieces I realised that what had started as a sort of love letter about my grandmother had become a love letter to my sister.
Given a choice, my sister selected the big red piece to keep. I kept this quieter oxidised sterling piece.
Te Āti Awa, Ngā Puhi
Toi Iho Licenced Artist
He Aho VIII – Waiting for Matariki
My painting is divided into sections as if seen through magnified spaces between aho and whatu, warp and weft of a kaakahu or cloak.
Ancestors of the four winds
Framed reconstructed relief print on acrylic painted paper with thread. The unmarked space between the squares forms a cross representing the directions of the winds
Tears slip sideways across her face
Framed reconstructed relief print on kokowai covered paper with thread telling the story of Papatūanuku’s tears falling across her face
Ngāti Rākaipaaka, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngā Ariki
I have always relished the practical application of art. I also enjoy the ability of art practice to transcend realities – either to push things apart or to bring them together.
Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Raukawa
The classical narrative continues to be a source of inspiration for symbolic representation and form in my work. Inherent within these accounts are universal principles with the potential to find a place in a contemporary context, the challenge for me is how to negotiate that interpretation without loss of meaning.
June Northcroft Grant
Te Arawa, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Toi Iho Licenced artist
Each time I paint the story of amazing tīpuna, another comes to light with yet another fascinating contribution to the histories of the tribe.
Ruahine – Women of Two Peoples
Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Kai Tahu, Te Whānau a Apanui
Toi Iho Licenced artist
Matariki is a time of celebration, but it is also a time to acknowledge our loved ones who have made their final journey to the spiritual world.
Te Ara Pounamu
Te Herenga Wairua (The Departing Place of The Spirits)
Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kanohi (Ngāi Te Rīwai), Ngāti Kaipoho (Ngāi Te Aweawe)
My commitment is to the culture, language and customs of my tīpuna. That means building strong connections to the land, the marae and to my whānau, hapū and iwi.
Te Whetū o Te Rangi
Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi
Toi Iho Licensed Artist
I started weaving in the early 1980s. Emily Schuster, a remarkable and most talented woman taught me the art of making whāriki and I have been teaching and weaving ever since. Harakeke has taken me on a wonderful journey.
Weaving with ngā kuia and ngā wahine filled my kete and so, through my teaching, I hope to fill other people’s kete. Harakeke has been my friend for many, many years and will be for many more to come.
In making this kete whakairo I was recalling the life of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Māori Queen, who died in 2006. I will always remember her as a great leader and an inspirational woman.
My home is nestled amongst the many pā sites of our area and is close to native bush. I paint mostly at night and I am inspired by the sounds of the awa and ruru. My art has provided me with an avenue to express and share my innermost feelings and thoughts with others.
Matariki is both a symbol of and a signal for life, When Matariki rises I remember my father, my old people, my ancient ancestors friends and whānau who are no longer here with us in this world.
Materials: Acrylic paint on canvas
Dimensions: 460 X 920 mm
Te Kāhui o Matariki - Lewis Gardiner
Te Kāhui o Matariki - June Northcroft Grant Part 1
Te Kāhui o Matariki - June Northcroft Grant Part 2
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