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Artists inspired by wai

A deep dive into Wairoa waters has inspired third-year Toihoukura art students from Gisborne.

The show, Nga Wai Hono, represents the students’ work from their final year and opened at Wairoa Museum last Thursday.

It is the second time students from Gisborne have shown their work in Wairoa, but this time lecturers are exhibiting alongside them.

One of the students explored plants inspired by the museum publication Te Rauwa, which captures the changing landscape of Wairoa.

Ivonne Caceres gathered native plants including kawakawa, kahikatea in berry, harakeke and lemonwood for her vertical canvas work.

A Waikato-Ngāpuhi artist, Bridy Rihari-Lundon has represented taniwha from Te Reinga with a wheku of Ruamana looking after the waters that run through Te Reinga, the Hangaroa and Ruakituri to Wairoa River.

The taniwha guardian Hinekorako from Waikaremoana is depicted in relief like an engraving over layers of water with haunting eyes.

Their Toihoukura lecturer Erena Koopu is both a painter and performing arts specialist.

While the students are six weeks into their final year, at the start of the term they drove down to see the museum space and its installation potential and to meet with museum curator Mike Spedding who also lectures at Toihoukura.

“That provided us the opportunity to talk about the possible kaupapa for this show,” said Ms Koopu.

“They had a wananga about what the show could be and their kaupapa for the year.

“They wanted to interpret and intertwine it with what they could do here and they wanted to base it on wai, Te Wairoa, Turanganui-a-Kiwa and what it provided for us.

“That included the different korero behind water, history and everything that it entails.”

Nga Wai Hono meant waters that merge, ebb and flow together — whether it was oceans, wetlands, tides or rivers, Ms Koopu said.

In her class, almost 90 percent of the students were Kahungunu descendants and many were hoping to become practising artists and teachers and return to their rohe and homes to give back to their iwi.

Most of the art exhibited at the museum gallery was for sale.

At Toihoukura, Mr Spedding teaches a paper called He Tatai Taonga — Heritage and Museum Studies.

He said it was an honour to have third year students and their lecturers exhibiting.

“It is the first time we have had that and it is very special for Wairoa with its kaupapa of the wai.

“The last time Toihoukura exhibited here was in 2016 just after the Kakapa museum redevelopment.” — Wairoa Star

NATIVE ART: Ivonne Caceres has eye-catching miro berries in her study of local plants. Pictures supplied
Nga Wai Hono show of Toihoukura art from students and teachers.