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A rock rises as the winner

VISITORS to the Te Ha Arts exhibition took the people’s choice vote seriously, says Tairawhiti Museum director Eloise Wallace. Visitors and school groups inspected the works and filled out ballot forms.

The impact of settlement on Tairawhiti’s native animals and plant life was the theme of this year’s entries.

Sarah Kane-Matete’s work was particularly popular and it was Kane-Matete’s piece that took the Professor Jack Richards sponsored prize of $1000.

Kane-Matete’s mandala-like painting Hine Taiao — He toko Tumoana reflects the whorl of water created at the pre-developed site that was meeting of the Turanganui River and sea. The whorl was created by river mouth guardian, the taniwha Pipitaiari who saved Hine Taiao by transforming her into the rock Te Toka-a-Taiau.

Hine Taiao’s role had been to transport people from her iwi across the river. She was caught in a karakia battle between two tohunga and carried towards the river mouth, but was saved by her transformation.

Symbolic figures that represent the taniwha, the two tohunga and ocean and sky motifs feature in layers of patterns in the work. The Manila born painter also included Filipino patterns in the painting.

“Hine Taiao rises up in the work,” Kane-Matete said.

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Te Ha Arts exhibition awards people’s choice winner Sarah Kane-Matete stands with her work Hine Taiao — He toko Tumoana. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell