Whareākeāke - Atua, 2022
Pounamu, brass, paint, shell; L895mm; From Exhibition, Te Matapihi, 11 June – 16 July 2022.
Whareakēakē is the Atua a Taunaha, of the beach carrying this name (near Ōtepoti). This is the place where people would gather to create adornments, tools, and associated equipment. The various types of stone(mainly Pounamu) found for this specialist work, coupled with open ocean access and neighbouring kai gathering places, made this a perfect place for older tohunga artists to live their mahi alongside younger generations identified as potential keepers of this knowledge. This sacred place was packed with natural resources, which belong to the realm of many Atua. Food, fibre, land, water fresh and salted, is well sheltered for launching and landing of waka, shell.
This series is an opportunity to reintroduce three Atua. Whareakēakē supplies the materials for this series allowing an opportunity to have her geographical story told. She also throws her support behind the other two Atua by reminding the artist/audience/people that before adornments were classified and valued through the colonial process, indigenous groups decided for themselves which naturally occurring materials they would use to dress themselves. Which had value and how they would be presented to uphold the mana of the Atua who created such beautiful things.
Purimānuka and Pūhihiri are minor Atua who have relationships with people on a wairua(spiritual) level, they have maintained their working relationship with people throughout the many reconstructions of society over time. Their mana enhancing scope includes very small acts of bravery that an individual must express, to huge times of social turmoil that leads to dynamic change and all things within this spectrum.
Whareakēakē is the Atua a Taunaha, of the beach carrying this name (near Ōtepoti). A well-resourced area for the creation of adornments which were not limited to pounamu, they included shell, bone, feathers, fibre. All these things were valued and had whakapapa in their own right. Whareakēakē is charged with protection of the mana of the Atua who have gifted the resources that can be used in the production of adornments. Many of these Atua taonga have a primary purpose, food, medicine, an ability to be manipulated into everyday use fibres and vessels. Many also have reflective surfaces, or can be manipulated in form, or can be dyed, cut, carved, and arranged. Whareakēakē challenges people to see the beauty in all found objects that are created by Atua, but not necessarily categorised as valuable by people.
Nā Paula Conroy (kaituhi, writer)
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