• WharehokaSmith

Kureitanga II IV is a site-specific wall painting created by local artist WharehokaSmith (Taranaki/Te Ātiawa/Ngāruahine), commissioned to rest at the heart of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. The large-scale work is located in the Todd Energy Learning Centre which is used for education and public programmes, as well as staff and community meetings. WharehokaSmith was invited to respond to this context and create a work that echoes the building’s unique architecture.

Kureitanga II IV is an interpretation of Pērā Hoki, an ancient waiata/karakia (song/prayer) which focuses on the significance of water to all life. The connection water creates between earth and sky is mirrored by the building, reaching from the floor to a skylight high above. An important karakia from the Taranaki region, Pērā Hoki was chosen in discussion with local kaumātua Dr Ruakere Hond (Taranaki/Ngāti Ruanui/Te Whānau-a-Apanui). Drawing upon it the artist has created a visual language that refers to both traditional symbols and modern abstraction, freshly interpreting the original text.

Kureitanga means ‘point’ or ‘end’ (of the nose) and is often likened to the shape of the Taranaki coastline. It refers to the environment, nature, and human relationships with all things past, present and future. The Roman numerals of the title are references to the Indian chakra, specific energy centres of the body that are linked to health and wellbeing, as well as decision making and creativity.

The symbolism in this work has its roots in raranga (weaving), whakairo (carving), tukutuku (woven wall panel) and kōwhaiwhai (painted pattern), elegantly demonstrating the ability of toi Māori (art) to respond to contemporary contexts. All of these forms have evolved and been passed down through generations of Māori communities. WharehokaSmith has, with this work, found and developed a vocabulary drawn from the long history of Māori in this place, seeing toi Māori itself as ‘a finite set of resources with infinite possibilities’.

This commission redresses the absence or misrepresentation of toi Māori that frequently occurs in contemporary New Zealand culture. In working with both traditional symbols and texts, WharehokaSmith brings together important cultural forms that emphasise the concept of whanaungatanga – that no one person, object or concept can exist or prosper alone, that everything is related, and cultures benefit when the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

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  • 42 Queen Street
  • New Plymouth