Stories inspire new ways of looking at personal issues

Maori creation stories and art combine in new mental health initiative, Mahi-a-Atua.

Maori creation stories and art combine in new mental health initiative, Mahi-a-Atua.

MAHI-A-ATUA: Artist Nick Tupara was inspired to create two drawings at a recent symposium that included medical practitioners and clinicians who work in mental health to discuss an initiative based on Maori creation stories and art. In both drawings, Te Kuwatawata, one of the sons of Rangi and Papa, can be seen in his role as gatekeeper between the living and the spirit world. In one, the drawing of the waka form, a recurring motif in Tupara’s work, wound with a cloth was inspired by one presenter’s scripted piece about youth suicide. “A key character was a young boy who was getting pressure from all directions,” says Tupara. Unable to deal with it he withdrew. The presenter suggested this with an image of boy covering himself with a blanket and closing himself off. The image of the blanket stayed with Tupara so he incorporated it in the drawing. Pictures supplied
Artwork by Nick Tupara.
MAHI-A-ATUA: Artist Nick Tupara created two drawings inspired at a recent symposium that included medical practitioners and clinicians who work in mental health to discuss an initiative based on Maori creation stories and art.
In two drawings Tupara made at the symposium, Te Kuwatawata, one of the sons of Rangi and Papa, can be seen in his role as gatekeeper between the living and the spirit world.
In another work, the drawing of the waka form - a recurrent motif in Tupara’s work - wound with a cloth was inspired by one presenter’s scripted piece about youth suicide.
“In the drama a key character was a young boy who was getting pressure from all directions,” says Tupara.
Unable to deal with it he withdrew. The presenter suggested this with an image of boy covering himself with a blanket and closing himself off.
The image of the blanket stayed with Tupara so he incorporated it in the drawing.
“The key to the story was not so much him but the sister he left behind,” he says.
Picture by XXXXX
Nick Tupara

MAORI creation stories and art combine in a new mental health initiative called Mahi-a-Atua.

Mahi-a-Atua is based on the concept that identities from the pantheon of purakau (Maori creation stories) offer starting points for clients to explore personal issues.

Artistic representations of creation story characters fit with the Maori world view in which all aspects of traditional life are incorporated with art and design.

“Our stories are who we are,” says artist Nick Tupara.

“You talk about the characters and the client can find how those characters dealt with a particular situation. The image helps the practitioner explore the story. It’s a way they can explore the image and become a storyteller and less a practitioner.

“Most Maori feel a reconnection when they see images from their culture. This is about using art to reflect a bit of the client as well.”

A raft of characteristics that everyone, at some point in their lives, might connect with, can be found in one or more of the mythological figures, says Tupara.

“The creation stories are familiar to people in a broad sense but practitioners use them to bring more specifics from these stories.”

Tumatauenga, a son of primordial parents Rangi and Papa, for instance, is generally known as the god of war but the deity’s name breaks down to mean “Tu of many faces”, says Tupara.

“His intention was to get something done,” says Tupara. “In the creation story he says ‘we’ve gone over this again and again. Let’s get something done’. He is a doer, not a talker.

“There are many faces within a character and it is the same with the client. You start with the broad story and bring it down to where the client is at. We use familiar stories to pare back what is happening in the client.”

MAORI creation stories and art combine in a new mental health initiative called Mahi-a-Atua.

Mahi-a-Atua is based on the concept that identities from the pantheon of purakau (Maori creation stories) offer starting points for clients to explore personal issues.

Artistic representations of creation story characters fit with the Maori world view in which all aspects of traditional life are incorporated with art and design.

“Our stories are who we are,” says artist Nick Tupara.

“You talk about the characters and the client can find how those characters dealt with a particular situation. The image helps the practitioner explore the story. It’s a way they can explore the image and become a storyteller and less a practitioner.

“Most Maori feel a reconnection when they see images from their culture. This is about using art to reflect a bit of the client as well.”

A raft of characteristics that everyone, at some point in their lives, might connect with, can be found in one or more of the mythological figures, says Tupara.

“The creation stories are familiar to people in a broad sense but practitioners use them to bring more specifics from these stories.”

Tumatauenga, a son of primordial parents Rangi and Papa, for instance, is generally known as the god of war but the deity’s name breaks down to mean “Tu of many faces”, says Tupara.

“His intention was to get something done,” says Tupara. “In the creation story he says ‘we’ve gone over this again and again. Let’s get something done’. He is a doer, not a talker.

“There are many faces within a character and it is the same with the client. You start with the broad story and bring it down to where the client is at. We use familiar stories to pare back what is happening in the client.”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you think tension between North Korea and USA will escalate to military conflict?