Innovative and motivating are just some of many words that describe the well-known toi guests who have been inspiring our tauira this semester.
Rangi Kipa, Anatonio Te Maioha, Mr G, Julie Paama-Pengully, Donna Campbell and Todd Couper have so far contributed to the Mātanga Toi series.
Mātanga Toi is an initiative, which began this year aimed at introducing our toi tauira to leading toi practitioners who are experts in their field. The manuhiri have talked about their toi journey, their personal challenges, their perservance and what it means to be a toi practitioner in Aotearoa. The fortnightly online talks have been thought-provoking and encouraging.
Rangi Kipa (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Tama ki te Tauihu)
is a sculptor, carver and tā moko expert, who is committed to being an agent for change. As the descedent of tupuna who lost their lands, he challenges tauira to examine our colonial past and determine new truths. “Our job as creatives is to think creatively and to propose and constructive alternatives for the future. We have to be agents, to enrol our mokopuna in that future, to participate in what Aotearoa should look like.” He shares how toi is our cultural expression of our relationship with our taiao and each other. “We can use Toi to stitch our world back together again.”
Actor Anatonio Te Maioha (Ngapuhi, Tainui)
is known for his role in Spartacus and more recently is in Kairākau. He describes himself as a storyteller. “I am not scared to have a go at creative stuff – creativity is often my peaceful place.” Despite his early shyness Anatonio says, “Don’t let your internal mantras hold you back, just say it and go for it”. Anatonio draws upon taha Māori and meditation to ground himself.
Mr G (aka Graeme Hotere) (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Awa)
who is famous for his large scale portraiture murals, admitted drawing faces is difficult due to the uniqueness of individuals. “With portraiture it’s all in the eyes...they are the windows to the soul – when you look in them you connect with them.” Mr G says toi practitioners need to adapt and innovate, but preserve the integrity of the arts. “We need to ensure that as indigenous artists we are connected to the stories we tell, it’s our whakapapa.” For Mr G, this means collaborating with iwi and painting murals that depict messages of hope. His key messages to tauira is embrace life, serve your people and stand firm in your own identity – ‘Tū māia, Tū kaha, Tū Rangatira, Tū pakari - stand in your mana’.
Julie Paama-Pengully (Ngāi Te Rangi)
is a tā moko practitioner with her own studio in Tauranga. She is committed to the long-term future of toi Māori. “I am an artist, because what I do matters for the future...If you believe in that and aware of that, then what you do right now is important”. She describes how moko is an integral part of our identity and claiming a sense of who we are. Julie encourages tauira to persevere with their toi practice as over time you can improve.
Donna Campbell (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui)
is a raranga and textile practitioner who has exhibited worldwide. She says ‘raranga is a vehicle to tell a story and a vehicle to practice tikanga.’ Donna, who has been practising raranga for several decades adds ‘through the making of art we can really push the boundaries and think about what we consider to be art’. She encourages tauira to think outside the square and this means having new conversations with oneself and one's practice.
Todd Couper (Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu)
had his passion for arts ignited at a young age by his dad’s drawings, his nan’s paintings and the whakairo and kōwhaiwhai that adorned some of the wharenui at home in Wairoa. He first picked up a chisel and mallet when he was 18 and has spent 25 years as a full-time artist, learning, developing and perfecting his artform. He says, “This journey for me has no end, but only exciting possibilities in fashioning our beautiful native timbers into artworks that speak the visual language of whakairo.” He adds whakairo is a medium that allows him to tell stories and evoke emotion, “I feel a sense of duty to uphold that mana as I execute every single cut with purpose and integrity.”
In Semester B we will continue the Mātanga Toi series with a second line up of exciting manuhiri. These are available to all toi tauira at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.