The best of 2017 at Toihoukura

Toiroa’s vision: Deborah Hope with one of the paintings she completed this year as part of her major project depicting the story of Toiroa a Ikariki, a visionary who lived in Mahia around the time of Cook. Picture supplied
AS THE HAWK FLIES: Jahvan Apatu with a series of watercolours depicting a hawk’s view of the Heretaunga countryside.

TWO graduates of Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Arts, Deborah Hope and Jahvan Apatu, will take their work to the next level following an intensive year of research and art practice to achieve their honours degree in Professional Creative Practice.

Both students completed their undergraduate qualifications with Toihoukura — Deborah in 2001 with the Advanced Diploma in Arts and Design, and Jahvan in 2010 with his Te Toi o Nga Rangi: Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts. Their decision to return and advance to postgraduate qualifications had been a few years coming, and both have done other art-related work during that time.

Deborah attained her teaching diploma through the Christchurch College of Education. This led her to teach at Wellington East Girls’ College before she moved back to Wairoa following the birth of her son. She taught in Wairoa for eight years but felt her artistry had stagnated, and wanted to look at reinvigorating her practice and seek fresh inspiration for new works. By undertaking Te Hono ki Toi (Poutiri-a-rangi) Bachelor of Professional Creative Practice (Hons) programme, she has been able to challenge herself as an artist and an academic.

“It really pushed my creativity,” she said. “I just loved the research components, written work and being able to present my findings. I have re-evaluated the importance of research and using the information to apprise my art and to keep building on ancestral connections.”

The inspiration for her major project is the story of Toiroa a Ikariki, a tohunga matakite (visionary) who lived in Mahia (formerly Nukutaurua) in the 18th century. Toiroa is said to have foretold, three years before the event, the coming of the “pakerewha” (the red and white strangers) which has been interpreted to mean Cook’s arrival in Aotearoa. He also predicted the birth of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, a prominent leader of the Tairawhiti region.

Symbolic images and text

Deborah explored these themes extensively and incorporated them into a series of paintings using both symbolic images and text to portray landscapes, emotions and cultural perspectives during some of the most turbulent times of the colonial era.

In 2010, Jahvan Apatu completed his arts degree and received the Dr Jack Richards ruanuku (top degree student) award. A gifted artist, musician and filmmaker, he has used all these skills to carve career pathways for himself. His relationship with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga led to a commission of painted murals which are found inTe Taiwhenuao Heretaunga offices in Hastings.

He has managed and organised components of music festivals such as the annual East Coast Vibes event, mixing with local, national and international recording artists. But ultimately his passion lies in the practice of ta moko and it is this that keeps him closely connected to his art, and inspired by the stories of his iwi.

In his latest undergraduate works, Jahvan drew on traditional shapes and finely-executed designs reminiscent of ta moko.

His theme for exhibition was “Kahu the Hawk”, a legendary symbol of kaitiakitangi (stewardship) over both physical and spiritual realms for the people of Ngati Kahungunu. Jahvan’s research delved into why his ancestors attributed particular qualities to kahu.

“We always heard the term ‘te haaro o te Kahu’ (the eye of the hawk), and growing up between Mahia, Napier and Hastings I would always see them soaring overhead along the Hawke’s Bay forests and coastlines. The elders knew, long before the research proved it, that the hawk could see small creatures such as mice from distances of up to five kilometres.”

Through the hawk's eyes

Fascinated, Jahvan wanted to capture Heretaunga through the eyes of the hawk. To achieve this, he used the footage from a drone to form his oral presentation which, in turn, informed a major part of his honours’ exhibition. The paintings and film that emerged from his research symbolise — what Jahvan imagines — the hawk’s view of the Heretaunga plains, and its wealth of life-giving water resources, pure aquifers and dews. He also touches on the water problems that the region is facing today.

Using soft colours and mosaic symbols of the hawk, Jahvan also created a series of three water colours which aim to capture the hawk and its view of the Heretaunga countryside, with tinges of gold to express the rich values of the landscape.

“They are underpinned and united by a cross section of the contours of the Heretaunga, and intercepted by two images of the hawk, including its eyes and its wingspan, depicted by much finer details.”

Jahvan draws on a plethora of multicultural influences including Egyptian and North American imagery, but artistically his role models have been Sandy Adsett and Derek Lardelli, both prominent Maori artists in New Zealand and abroad. But his biggest inspiration is his father, Marei Apatu, who has always supported him in everything he has done.

“I don’t know exactly what my next steps will be but I will continue to work towards bettering my ta moko craftsmanship, teaching digital film and music production with EIT, and doing my weekend DJ gigs.

“I definitely want to persevere with my te haaro o te kahu research so that eventually I can document and publish resources for my iwi.”

Deborah and Jahvan will return to Toihoukura in 2018 to complete their Te Honoki Toi (Poutiriao) Masters of Professional Creative Practice studies.

TWO graduates of Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Arts, Deborah Hope and Jahvan Apatu, will take their work to the next level following an intensive year of research and art practice to achieve their honours degree in Professional Creative Practice.

Both students completed their undergraduate qualifications with Toihoukura — Deborah in 2001 with the Advanced Diploma in Arts and Design, and Jahvan in 2010 with his Te Toi o Nga Rangi: Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts. Their decision to return and advance to postgraduate qualifications had been a few years coming, and both have done other art-related work during that time.

Deborah attained her teaching diploma through the Christchurch College of Education. This led her to teach at Wellington East Girls’ College before she moved back to Wairoa following the birth of her son. She taught in Wairoa for eight years but felt her artistry had stagnated, and wanted to look at reinvigorating her practice and seek fresh inspiration for new works. By undertaking Te Hono ki Toi (Poutiri-a-rangi) Bachelor of Professional Creative Practice (Hons) programme, she has been able to challenge herself as an artist and an academic.

“It really pushed my creativity,” she said. “I just loved the research components, written work and being able to present my findings. I have re-evaluated the importance of research and using the information to apprise my art and to keep building on ancestral connections.”

The inspiration for her major project is the story of Toiroa a Ikariki, a tohunga matakite (visionary) who lived in Mahia (formerly Nukutaurua) in the 18th century. Toiroa is said to have foretold, three years before the event, the coming of the “pakerewha” (the red and white strangers) which has been interpreted to mean Cook’s arrival in Aotearoa. He also predicted the birth of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, a prominent leader of the Tairawhiti region.

Symbolic images and text

Deborah explored these themes extensively and incorporated them into a series of paintings using both symbolic images and text to portray landscapes, emotions and cultural perspectives during some of the most turbulent times of the colonial era.

In 2010, Jahvan Apatu completed his arts degree and received the Dr Jack Richards ruanuku (top degree student) award. A gifted artist, musician and filmmaker, he has used all these skills to carve career pathways for himself. His relationship with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga led to a commission of painted murals which are found inTe Taiwhenuao Heretaunga offices in Hastings.

He has managed and organised components of music festivals such as the annual East Coast Vibes event, mixing with local, national and international recording artists. But ultimately his passion lies in the practice of ta moko and it is this that keeps him closely connected to his art, and inspired by the stories of his iwi.

In his latest undergraduate works, Jahvan drew on traditional shapes and finely-executed designs reminiscent of ta moko.

His theme for exhibition was “Kahu the Hawk”, a legendary symbol of kaitiakitangi (stewardship) over both physical and spiritual realms for the people of Ngati Kahungunu. Jahvan’s research delved into why his ancestors attributed particular qualities to kahu.

“We always heard the term ‘te haaro o te Kahu’ (the eye of the hawk), and growing up between Mahia, Napier and Hastings I would always see them soaring overhead along the Hawke’s Bay forests and coastlines. The elders knew, long before the research proved it, that the hawk could see small creatures such as mice from distances of up to five kilometres.”

Through the hawk's eyes

Fascinated, Jahvan wanted to capture Heretaunga through the eyes of the hawk. To achieve this, he used the footage from a drone to form his oral presentation which, in turn, informed a major part of his honours’ exhibition. The paintings and film that emerged from his research symbolise — what Jahvan imagines — the hawk’s view of the Heretaunga plains, and its wealth of life-giving water resources, pure aquifers and dews. He also touches on the water problems that the region is facing today.

Using soft colours and mosaic symbols of the hawk, Jahvan also created a series of three water colours which aim to capture the hawk and its view of the Heretaunga countryside, with tinges of gold to express the rich values of the landscape.

“They are underpinned and united by a cross section of the contours of the Heretaunga, and intercepted by two images of the hawk, including its eyes and its wingspan, depicted by much finer details.”

Jahvan draws on a plethora of multicultural influences including Egyptian and North American imagery, but artistically his role models have been Sandy Adsett and Derek Lardelli, both prominent Maori artists in New Zealand and abroad. But his biggest inspiration is his father, Marei Apatu, who has always supported him in everything he has done.

“I don’t know exactly what my next steps will be but I will continue to work towards bettering my ta moko craftsmanship, teaching digital film and music production with EIT, and doing my weekend DJ gigs.

“I definitely want to persevere with my te haaro o te kahu research so that eventually I can document and publish resources for my iwi.”

Deborah and Jahvan will return to Toihoukura in 2018 to complete their Te Honoki Toi (Poutiriao) Masters of Professional Creative Practice studies.

The works of Deborah Hope and Jahvan Apatu will be part of Toihoukua’s Hei Puru Rourou exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum and Arts Centre over summer. The exhibition will open with a ceremony on December 15 and remain installed until February 11.

Hei Puru Rourou will include recent works by artists from entry level to degree level students and their tutors at Toihoukura, using a wide range of media. The school of contemporary Maori Visual Arts at EIT is led by Dr Derek Lardelli and his associate professor Steve Gibbs, both internationally renowned artists.

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