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Of mentors and rangatahi

Maori mythology — Maui, in particular — features strongly in the Tuakana Taina exhibition that features the work of 19 artists at Tairawhiti Museum.

A fearless exploration of modern and natural media, including digital lighting and video combines in many of the pieces.

These include Maia Taaniko Kerekere’s highly-stylised depiction in assembled pieces of coloured perspex of Maui the Trickster, Takawhio Kerekere’s digital stop motion work — a medium learned during lockdown — called Maui and the Sun.

Among the eclectic range of works is Henare Tahuri’s protest piece, the gang-like insignia, Ko Maui Awau, pictured above.

“Ko Maui Awau is my gangsta response to the annoying red-taping, gate-keeping colonial systems and laws that continue to suppress our mauitanga and privileges in fish waka and the anchor of Maui,” writes Tahuri in an accompanying note.

“’Pohara” (impoverished) seems to have stuck since the branding back in 1769 of Poverty Bay . . . 1840 was supposed to provide a promise of protection to all rights, resources and ownership of Maui’s fish, waka and anchor.

“We are the Maui, the mokomoko who will continue the fight for a better, longer life and die, if needed, for the cause of tino rangatiratanga, while the coloniser represented on the fantail of broken promises sits to the side laughing at all our failings.”

Made out of matai, stainless steel, copper and copper leaf, Tai Kerekere’s sleek, sophisticated, waka hull-like wall-hanging (pictured left) is the artist’s interpretation of the journey of Maui to Hine-nui-te-po (goddess of death) and his search for eternal life.

“I like to work with natural and fabricated materials, combining these materials as a representation of past, present and future,” says Kerekere in an accompanying note.

■ Tuakana Taina, works by Kaaterina Kerekere, Tai Kerekere, Fiona Collis, Michelle Kerr, Wendy Whitehead, Johnny Poi, Hiwirori Maynard, Tawera Tahuri, Henare Tahuri, Claudette Collis, and aspiring rangatahi artists Tangiahua Kerekere, Maia Kerekere, Te Owaina Tangohau, Waiapu Tangianau, Cyene Tahuri, Te Hurutea Hapi, Khama Paul, and Te Whaitiri Tangohau. Tairawhiti Museum until March 21.

Ko Maui Awau by Henare Tahuri
Tara by Tai Kerekere