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Opening fairy doors to Coast creativity

A walk up Manutahi Hill in Ruatoria was the inspiration behind the light show and exhibition Te Ara Patupaiarehe held during the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

Based on the stories of kuia Kuini Moehau-Reedy, students of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou created fairy doors which were displayed along the Manutahi Hill walkway.

Sports Gisborne Tairāwhiti community connector Rawinia Parata came up with the idea when walking with other mothers as part of the Titirangi Mt Everest Challenge, adapted to allow those on the East Coast to use Manutahi Hill instead of Titirangi/Kaiti Hill.

“I thought it would be an opportunity to enhance our natural environment and create a space that would be interesting for our children,” Parata said.

The exhibition was a collaboration between students and teachers of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou, Hoea Gallery, Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, and Ngāti Porou Whanui Trust, who own the hill.

Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou principal Philip Heeney said the school was only too willing to help bring the stories, songs and items students had learned from kuia Kuini Moehau-Reedy to life through their artwork.

“The thing that really interests me is people can come up with ideas and go through a process where those ideas are brought to fruition,” Mrs Heeney said.

Media and visual arts teacher Jual Toroa said the brief they received was to create fairy doors.

The creative process started with students finding inspiration from other Maori art forms such as whakairo, ta moko, tāniko and tukutuku.

From there, Kuini Moehau-Reedy, known by students as Nanny Moehau, went to the school to do a korero on patupaiarehe (fairy-like people from Maori mythology).

Once students had their final drawings they digitised them using Adobe Illustrator. A cut file was made and this then went to a laser cutter to create the artwork.

Student Tamera Cross-Teraa said her favourite part was seeing all the end products, while fellow student Ariki Beach enjoyed learning how to use Illustrator.

For event organiser Parata, her ultimate aspiration of being able to host a well attended, high calibre arts festival in Ruatoria came to fruition, with over 600 people attending in sessions over the night.

“My ultimate aspiration for this project would be that our people feel worthy of the investment,” she said.

“Our isolation isn't always a barrier.”

FINAL PRODUCTS: Media and visual arts teacher Jual Toroa and student Ariki Beach (right) admire the finished art piece of Tamera Cross-Teraa. Pictures supplied
fairy doors: Students of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou made 'fairy doors' that were displayed along the pathway of Manutahi Hill, Ruatoria, as part of the Te Ara Patupaiarehe exhibition.
MARAE GUARDIAN: Ariki Beach's fairy door represents the guardian of her Marae, Te Aowera.