Top student's unique interpretation

RUANUKU FOR 2017: The “ruanuku” or top undergraduate student of the Toihoukura Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts degree programme, Catherine August, with her art piece of Gisborne kuia, the late Rawinia Te Kani. Catherine says she had the privilege of being a student at Toihoukura during the same time as Mrs Te Kani. Picture by Shaan Te Kani

WHEN Catherine August first contemplated studying art four years ago, she couldn’t even “do art”.

Now she is the “ruanuku”, or the top undergraduate student of the Toihoukura Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts programme.

Each year EIT’s School of Maori Visual Arts, Toihoukura, recognises the ruanuku with the Jack Richards award.

A piece of their work is then selected by the Tairawhiti Museum to become part of its permanent Maori arts collection.

“The ruanuku is an art student who performs at a high level across a range of requirements,” says Toihoukura lecturer Steve Gibbs.

“Catherine’s point of difference is that she has her own unique style of interpreting imagery.

“She is also very capable in the research area. She is a very receptive learner and is a hard worker. She produces an enormous amount of work.”

Catherine’s unique style has been captured in the body of work called “Whakapaipai (make-up)”.

In this she developed her own interpretation on using photographs to inspire her work.

“The ‘make-up’ relates to the make-up of a person. To me that meant whakapapa, bloodlines, culture and identity,” she says.

There are 30 pieces in total, and what stands out is that Catherine has reinterpreted images of a number of well-known kuia and personalities.

Prominent figures in lineup

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, Maori freedom fighter Tame Iti and the Maori Queen Dame Te Ataairangikaahu are among the lineup as well as beloved local kaumatua such as the late Heni Sunderland, Rawinia Te Kani, Whaea McClutchie, Ngoi Pewhairangi and Ngapo and Pimia Wehi.

Five of the pieces of “Whakapaipai” have been selected for the museums’s collection.

“I was inspired by Lindauer and Goldie, by drawing from photographs, and I chose the people in the pieces because they were powerful,” she said.

Catherine has just completed her third year and is already preparing for honours studies next year.

“I ended up here after I had studied level 4 of the EIT’s fashion programme. There was a change in the programme for the following year, and they were only going to deliver level 3,” Catherine said.

“My fashion tutors suggested that I come to Toihoukura.

“I started off in the certificate programme and during that time I found out that I liked art, so I decided to enrol in the degree programme.

“I couldn’t even do art. But I’ve learned along the way with the help of my tutors and fellow students.

“Now I’m going to study the one-year honours programme, which is an extension of what I have been doing and will be more research-orientated — research by creative practice.

“I’m already thinking about what I want to work on for next year.

“I will eventually look to study towards my masters, that’s the goal.

“So this has all been an awesome journey.”

Discovering whakapapa

While on her artistic journey, Catherine also discovered more about her whakapapa.

“When I first started, I followed my father’s line and recognised my Tuhoe whakapapa. But through this journey I’ve learnt that I’m from Whakatohea and Te Whanau a Apanui as well.

“I came from that era where we weren’t allowed to speak Maori and our parents wouldn’t speak it to us.

“So coming to Toihoukura has been massive for me. I’ve just flourished here. And this is a great place to start.

“Te reo has never been something in my family, but you come here every day and you hear moteatea (traditional Maori chants), waiata and korero. My whanau are very proud.

“I encourage anyone out there to go out and give things a go. I think in life we never stop learning no matter how old we are.

“I couldn’t draw when I first came here but I found my own way.

“It took many people to get me here. I didn’t do it all on my own. A huge thank you to my tutors, classmates and family for all of their help over the past four years.”

WHEN Catherine August first contemplated studying art four years ago, she couldn’t even “do art”.

Now she is the “ruanuku”, or the top undergraduate student of the Toihoukura Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts programme.

Each year EIT’s School of Maori Visual Arts, Toihoukura, recognises the ruanuku with the Jack Richards award.

A piece of their work is then selected by the Tairawhiti Museum to become part of its permanent Maori arts collection.

“The ruanuku is an art student who performs at a high level across a range of requirements,” says Toihoukura lecturer Steve Gibbs.

“Catherine’s point of difference is that she has her own unique style of interpreting imagery.

“She is also very capable in the research area. She is a very receptive learner and is a hard worker. She produces an enormous amount of work.”

Catherine’s unique style has been captured in the body of work called “Whakapaipai (make-up)”.

In this she developed her own interpretation on using photographs to inspire her work.

“The ‘make-up’ relates to the make-up of a person. To me that meant whakapapa, bloodlines, culture and identity,” she says.

There are 30 pieces in total, and what stands out is that Catherine has reinterpreted images of a number of well-known kuia and personalities.

Prominent figures in lineup

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, Maori freedom fighter Tame Iti and the Maori Queen Dame Te Ataairangikaahu are among the lineup as well as beloved local kaumatua such as the late Heni Sunderland, Rawinia Te Kani, Whaea McClutchie, Ngoi Pewhairangi and Ngapo and Pimia Wehi.

Five of the pieces of “Whakapaipai” have been selected for the museums’s collection.

“I was inspired by Lindauer and Goldie, by drawing from photographs, and I chose the people in the pieces because they were powerful,” she said.

Catherine has just completed her third year and is already preparing for honours studies next year.

“I ended up here after I had studied level 4 of the EIT’s fashion programme. There was a change in the programme for the following year, and they were only going to deliver level 3,” Catherine said.

“My fashion tutors suggested that I come to Toihoukura.

“I started off in the certificate programme and during that time I found out that I liked art, so I decided to enrol in the degree programme.

“I couldn’t even do art. But I’ve learned along the way with the help of my tutors and fellow students.

“Now I’m going to study the one-year honours programme, which is an extension of what I have been doing and will be more research-orientated — research by creative practice.

“I’m already thinking about what I want to work on for next year.

“I will eventually look to study towards my masters, that’s the goal.

“So this has all been an awesome journey.”

Discovering whakapapa

While on her artistic journey, Catherine also discovered more about her whakapapa.

“When I first started, I followed my father’s line and recognised my Tuhoe whakapapa. But through this journey I’ve learnt that I’m from Whakatohea and Te Whanau a Apanui as well.

“I came from that era where we weren’t allowed to speak Maori and our parents wouldn’t speak it to us.

“So coming to Toihoukura has been massive for me. I’ve just flourished here. And this is a great place to start.

“Te reo has never been something in my family, but you come here every day and you hear moteatea (traditional Maori chants), waiata and korero. My whanau are very proud.

“I encourage anyone out there to go out and give things a go. I think in life we never stop learning no matter how old we are.

“I couldn’t draw when I first came here but I found my own way.

“It took many people to get me here. I didn’t do it all on my own. A huge thank you to my tutors, classmates and family for all of their help over the past four years.”

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 support the gun law changes announced this week, and signal of further tightening?