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Reawakening, new direction

Whakaoho — stirring, arousing, awakening — is the apt name of Toihoukura Maori visual arts school's first physical exhibition of the year.

Usually held at the end of term one, the Covid-19 lockdown meant the exhibition of undergraduate, post-graduate and staff members' works was put on hold.

The exhibition is of work created in physical isolation in that time.

“The lockdown was a really good time to be an artist, locked away and able to move into creative spaces,” senior lecturer and programme coordinator Erena Koopu said.

“This work has come out of the creative space of lockdown.”

The exhibition, which opened last night, was also an opportunity to open the school's new studio/gallery, Hineuku (the personified form of clay, or clay maid), after the area's former function as a clay-making space.

Student Hamiora Renata's work Mangakoru (fin of the mangopare, hammerhead shark) draws on a traditional style from Hawke's Bay which is where Renata is from.

The work is divided into two panels, one with brown tones, the other with blue, both subtly patterned to represent earth and sea.

Bridging the two worlds is a circular pattern made up of dynamic rhythms and motifs such as highly stylised manaia.

“The hammerhead shark is a protector, a guardian. This is a tribal style from throughout the years,” Renata said.

“I thought I would bring back a traditional artform.”

Whakaoho, an exhibition of artwork by Toihoukura students and staff, Maia Gallery, 80 Cobden Street.

MANGAKORU: Toihoukura student Hamiora Renata's painting Mangakoru (fin of the mangopare, hammerhead shark) features in the Maori visual art school's post-lockdown exhibition, Whakaoho (awakening). Picture by Rebecca Grunwell