Māori youth examine their relationship to the environment through art

Creative leadership in the environmental space will be ignited by the next generation of Māori artists as they showcase their work in the biannual Tai o Hī Tai o Hā exhibition, set to open to the public on May 28.

He Kākāriki Pōwhaitere is the name of the exhibition, which features the works of 19 taiohi Māori artists. This is a first milestone of their time in Toi Ngāpuhi’s youth-focussed two year Māori arts programme Tai o Hī Tai o Hā.

The programme holistically develops the skills of aspiring young Māori artists, placing their unique Māori identity as the cornerstone for success. 

Images courtesy of Toi Ngāpuhi

Pou Kaupapa Bethany Matai Edmunds is excited that this time around the exhibition will be hosted at Te Kōngahu Gallery, Museum of Waitangi.

“This kāhui taiohi follow the flight path of our tūpuna who asserted their mana motuhake here at Waitangi.” Edmunds says. “Their unique creative voices will elevate the unbroken connection between tūpuna and taiao, as uri of Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu.” 

The metaphorical expression Kākāriki Pōwhaitere is a particular invocation in the form of a recited ancient karakia. This karakia calls upon the lead bush parrot to act as intercessor between a community, their natural resources needs and Tāne-mahuta (the atua or guardian of the forest). “Kākāriki Pōwhaitere is seen as leadership, because that manu sits at the front and breaks the wind for the flock.” says current Tai o Hī Tai O Hā tauira Richard Hāmiora Green. 

Toi Ngāpuhi is an advocacy and support agency working across the cultural and creative networks of Te Taitokerau to revitalise distinctive and unique cultural identity. The organisation wishes to acknowledge the support of its core funding partner - Creative New Zealand, the Tai o Hī Tai o Hā principal funder - Foundation North, Lottery Grants Board through Lottery Community Northland and Northland Community Foundation. Special thanks to the enduring legacies of the home people of Waitangi, and to the Waitangi Museum and gallery staff for hosting this exhibition.

The exhibition runs from May 27 to August 16.

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