Toihoukura end-of-year exhibition

DEEPER MEANING: Now in her third and final year at Maori visual arts and design school, Toihoukura, Evon Wilson presents a series of paintings based on the story behind Matariki. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

TAIAO, the natural world, is the name of Maori visual arts and design school, Toihoukura’s end-of-year exhibition — but Evon Wilson’s work also embraces the celestial and the mythic.

Now in her third and final year, Wilson’s collection of paintings were conceived as illustrations for a book that tells the story of Matariki.

That story extends beyond the constellation’s broadly known features, the Maori new year as a time for remembering the dead and celebrating new life.

Inspired by a talk by Waikato University associate professor Dr Rangi Matamua, whose specialist research interest is in Maori astronomy, Wilson based her paintings on the deeper lore behind the star cluster associated with midwinter, Matariki.

“When he gave the talk I got these images stuck in my head,” says Wilson.

The first painting in the series depicts Ranginui and Papatuanuku, the male and female gods respectively of sky and earth, who were pushed apart by their children so they could live in the light.

A waterfall in the vividly-coloured work represents the tears Papa shed over the separation.

“The hidden meaning explains the appearance of Te Whanau a Marama, the family of light, the first light to come into the world.

“The second painting tells the story of how two stars were thrown into the sky.”

Angered by the forced separation of Rangi and Papa, god of the winds, Tawhirimatea, tore out his eyes in anger and flung them into the heavens, says Wilson.

She wants to write the text for the story about Matariki herself but this year focused on completing paintings that will be illustrations for the book.



TAIAO, the natural world, is the name of Maori visual arts and design school, Toihoukura’s end-of-year exhibition — but Evon Wilson’s work also embraces the celestial and the mythic.

Now in her third and final year, Wilson’s collection of paintings were conceived as illustrations for a book that tells the story of Matariki.

That story extends beyond the constellation’s broadly known features, the Maori new year as a time for remembering the dead and celebrating new life.

Inspired by a talk by Waikato University associate professor Dr Rangi Matamua, whose specialist research interest is in Maori astronomy, Wilson based her paintings on the deeper lore behind the star cluster associated with midwinter, Matariki.

“When he gave the talk I got these images stuck in my head,” says Wilson.

The first painting in the series depicts Ranginui and Papatuanuku, the male and female gods respectively of sky and earth, who were pushed apart by their children so they could live in the light.

A waterfall in the vividly-coloured work represents the tears Papa shed over the separation.

“The hidden meaning explains the appearance of Te Whanau a Marama, the family of light, the first light to come into the world.

“The second painting tells the story of how two stars were thrown into the sky.”

Angered by the forced separation of Rangi and Papa, god of the winds, Tawhirimatea, tore out his eyes in anger and flung them into the heavens, says Wilson.

She wants to write the text for the story about Matariki herself but this year focused on completing paintings that will be illustrations for the book.



Taiao, “I am my environment”, an exhibition of mixed media works by Toihoukura’s third-year degree students, Maia Gallery, opens tonight, 6pm.

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