A sense of place

STRIKING DESIGN: Artist Taupuruariki Brightwell’s dynamic mural on a Grey Street skatepark wall is anchored by the commanding presence of her ancestor, Heeni Tawaiwa Te Kawhena. Picture by Liam Clayton

A red, white and black, double-spiral kowhaiwhai continuously uncoils in artist Taupuruariki Brightwell’s recently completed mural at the skatepark. The kowhaiwhai design, te matua o maui (the hook of Maui) shares the double-spiral motif with pitau a manaia, a recurring pattern seen in works ancient and modern at the Rongowhakaata exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum last year.

The double-spiral pattern is a typical Rongowhakaata design, says Brightwell. Anchoring the dynamic whorl is the formidable figure of the artist’s ancestor, Heeni Tawaiwa Te Kawhena whose commanding presence in the mural is not unlike that of the artist.

Heeni Tawaiwa Te Kawhena was a direct descendent of Rongowhakaata, says Brightwell.

“Her husband Hamiora Whakataka was a great warrior. When his family members were taken away and sent to a garrison, he went to break them out. He freed the family but was chased to Waikanae Beach. As they fled to the beach, she was shot.

“We’re not sure if she died on the beach or in a canoe. Shortly after that, my family began to reside at Tokomaru Bay.

“She reminded me of my grandmother, a powerful, strong character. She was the boss of our family.”

The mural acknowledges her family history and the area, says Brightwell whose ancestors once fished in the adjacent stream.

A red, white and black, double-spiral kowhaiwhai continuously uncoils in artist Taupuruariki Brightwell’s recently completed mural at the skatepark. The kowhaiwhai design, te matua o maui (the hook of Maui) shares the double-spiral motif with pitau a manaia, a recurring pattern seen in works ancient and modern at the Rongowhakaata exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum last year.

The double-spiral pattern is a typical Rongowhakaata design, says Brightwell. Anchoring the dynamic whorl is the formidable figure of the artist’s ancestor, Heeni Tawaiwa Te Kawhena whose commanding presence in the mural is not unlike that of the artist.

Heeni Tawaiwa Te Kawhena was a direct descendent of Rongowhakaata, says Brightwell.

“Her husband Hamiora Whakataka was a great warrior. When his family members were taken away and sent to a garrison, he went to break them out. He freed the family but was chased to Waikanae Beach. As they fled to the beach, she was shot.

“We’re not sure if she died on the beach or in a canoe. Shortly after that, my family began to reside at Tokomaru Bay.

“She reminded me of my grandmother, a powerful, strong character. She was the boss of our family.”

The mural acknowledges her family history and the area, says Brightwell whose ancestors once fished in the adjacent stream.

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 Gladstone Road Bridge should have its concrete parapet walls converted to steel railings on one or both of its sides as part of the upgrade and widening under way?

    See also:

    Opinion: