Journey of self discovery

From the beginning of time, Maori history and knowledge has been handed down through oral traditions, also known as ‘korero tuku iho’. Ngati Rangiwaho artist Jual Toroa spoke with The Gisborne Herald’s Shaan Te Kani about the visual dialogue she has created to acknowledge the spoken histories of her ancestor Rangiwaho.

From the beginning of time, Maori history and knowledge has been handed down through oral traditions, also known as ‘korero tuku iho’. Ngati Rangiwaho artist Jual Toroa spoke with The Gisborne Herald’s Shaan Te Kani about the visual dialogue she has created to acknowledge the spoken histories of her ancestor Rangiwaho.

ACKNOWLEDGING ORAL HISTORIES: Ngati Rangiwaho artist Jual Toroa acknowledges ‘korero tuku iho’ or the spoken histories that have been passed down, through her latest exhibition. Pictures by Shaan Te Kani
Ngati Rangiwaho artist Jual Toroa (centre) at Rangiwaho Marae with her sons Kaea (right) and Te Ratahi (left) and daughter Piata (centre).

JUST 30km south of Gisborne, past the settlement of Muriwai is Rangiwaho Marae.

It sits at the foot of Oraki maunga, in the area of Tawatapu, also known as Bartletts.

It is home to the Ngati Rangiwaho people, who receive their name from their eponymous ancestor, who was also a grandson of Tamanuhiri.

For Jual Toroa, her latest exhibition ‘Rangiwaho, Korero Tuku Iho — Mana Tangata, Mana Whenua, Mana Moana’, is a way of acknowledging the information that has been passed down, and how that has helped her people to retain their home, land, sea and identity.

“Korero tuku iho are those spoken histories that have been handed down over time,” says Jual.

“It serves as a foundation that holds together our culture, gives us an identity, a turangawaewae and links us to rich traditions and history.

“This exhibition acknowledges our elders and the contribution they have made to us, with particular reference to the Treaty of Waitangi claims.

“Without their korero, we wouldn’t have been able to retain some of our lands and our moana.

“Our founding traditions, knowledge of whakapapa, and the local and personal knowledge have become the evidence that our whenua reports were based on to prove occupation and ownership.

Communicating importance of oral histories

“The exhibition is to visually communicate the importance of oral histories and acknowledge the role that our ancestors and elders have played in ensuring that our whanau, hapu and iwi are strong in their knowledge of every aspect of what it is to be descendants of Rangiwaho.”

It has been a journey of self discovery for Jual, who says prior to the exhibition she did not know much about her Ngati Rangiwaho side.

“Growing up, I learned a lot about being from Muriwai and being Tamanuhiri, but I did not know much about Rangiwaho so this has been an amazing experience.

“This work has made me learn my whakapapa and I’ve had to do a lot of research. I’ve learned so much, it’s awesome.”

Prints and tekoteko

The art display is a mixture of large format prints and laser-cut acrylic tekoteko.

Jual uses a combination of past and present images to create a visual narrative including maps of the land, Maori whenua reports and photographs.

The exhibition is part of Jual’s studies towards her Masters of Visual Arts at EIT’s Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design.

It was recently held at Rangiwaho Marae and Jual says there are plans to exhibit the portable displays at other locations as well as taking it back to the marae again.

“Many significant and historical events in relation to Rangiwaho and his descendants occurred on this block which makes it the most appropriate place to hold the exhibition.”

JUST 30km south of Gisborne, past the settlement of Muriwai is Rangiwaho Marae.

It sits at the foot of Oraki maunga, in the area of Tawatapu, also known as Bartletts.

It is home to the Ngati Rangiwaho people, who receive their name from their eponymous ancestor, who was also a grandson of Tamanuhiri.

For Jual Toroa, her latest exhibition ‘Rangiwaho, Korero Tuku Iho — Mana Tangata, Mana Whenua, Mana Moana’, is a way of acknowledging the information that has been passed down, and how that has helped her people to retain their home, land, sea and identity.

“Korero tuku iho are those spoken histories that have been handed down over time,” says Jual.

“It serves as a foundation that holds together our culture, gives us an identity, a turangawaewae and links us to rich traditions and history.

“This exhibition acknowledges our elders and the contribution they have made to us, with particular reference to the Treaty of Waitangi claims.

“Without their korero, we wouldn’t have been able to retain some of our lands and our moana.

“Our founding traditions, knowledge of whakapapa, and the local and personal knowledge have become the evidence that our whenua reports were based on to prove occupation and ownership.

Communicating importance of oral histories

“The exhibition is to visually communicate the importance of oral histories and acknowledge the role that our ancestors and elders have played in ensuring that our whanau, hapu and iwi are strong in their knowledge of every aspect of what it is to be descendants of Rangiwaho.”

It has been a journey of self discovery for Jual, who says prior to the exhibition she did not know much about her Ngati Rangiwaho side.

“Growing up, I learned a lot about being from Muriwai and being Tamanuhiri, but I did not know much about Rangiwaho so this has been an amazing experience.

“This work has made me learn my whakapapa and I’ve had to do a lot of research. I’ve learned so much, it’s awesome.”

Prints and tekoteko

The art display is a mixture of large format prints and laser-cut acrylic tekoteko.

Jual uses a combination of past and present images to create a visual narrative including maps of the land, Maori whenua reports and photographs.

The exhibition is part of Jual’s studies towards her Masters of Visual Arts at EIT’s Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design.

It was recently held at Rangiwaho Marae and Jual says there are plans to exhibit the portable displays at other locations as well as taking it back to the marae again.

“Many significant and historical events in relation to Rangiwaho and his descendants occurred on this block which makes it the most appropriate place to hold the exhibition.”

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