CollaboratioNZ Whangarei is a biannual event where artists from Aotearoa and overseas work together in tandem over seven days learning new skills and sharing ideas. They grow their own arts practice whilst collaborating with others in the most serene environment under the shadow of Mount Manaia.
Kāpuia is the major piece that I initiated and collaborated with over a dozen other artisans through to its completion.
Materials: Macrocarpa, walnut, blue gum, steel, copper, silver, fused glass, braid, danish oil.
Meaning: Kāpuia means to gather up, or gather together to strengthen. CollaboratioNZ Whangarei is about gathering people, gathering materials, gathering ideas and working together to strengthen the group as much as the individual. Kāpuia comes from the whakatauāki (proverb) by King Tawhiao, “Kia kōtahi ai te kākaho, ka whawhati. Kia kāpuia, e kore e whati”. “When reeds stand alone they are vulnerable, but together they are unbreakable”.
This piece talks about ‘Whangarei-te-rerenga Paraoa’ The Meeting Place of Whales’, one of the traditional names for the Harbour. It was also said to be a metaphor in reference to the many chiefs of the area.
The central imagery of the three manaia figures is of them hauling a whale to the shore. I liken this to Collab where we are all welcomed to our creative space over the ensuing week with tools and resources in hand to work collectively, sharing ideas and skills to produce amazing art pieces. The fourth manaia refers to those ideas, skills and technologies of old that we hold firm to, but bring into a modern context. Each of the eyes reflects this idea with glass, steel and copper in the three connected manaia figures and a watch face for the manaia returning to the sea. The idea of the watch is about taking a step back in time in order to move forward with our art and that it is timeless.
The taniko triangle designs or niho taniwha (the teeth of the sea monsters) represent mountains of the three areas, Aotearoa at the top, Canada, America, France, England the bottom left and The South Pacific bottom right. Each has a border of copper with a silver symbol for each of those areas. Aotearoa a depiction of ‘The Long White Cloud’, Canada the snowflake and The South Pacific a traditional navigational tool. The symbols either side of the name ‘KāPuia are the three waka on the left indicating the fleet of voyaging waka and the anchor on the right is a big anchor for stability in a small sea.
The frame references the tumu herenga waka, the mooring posts of the waka, which is finished with the lashing to bind the waka to the mooring post or the people to Collab. This is stabilised by the steel pins, the first advancement in technology presented to Maori by Captain Cook on his arrival on the shores of Turanganui-ā-Kiwa, Gisborne.
KāPUIA, working together in unity, strengthening ourselves and each other.