Amber Smith Brett Rangitaawa Paora Tiatoa Paula Coulthard Rebecca Larsen Shane Morris Wiremu Barriball

Matariki 2020 is set to be an exciting time across Aotearoa. Much of Wellington city will come together to reflect, celebrate and renew. Matariki festivals will range from events, exhibitions, performances and opportunities to learn more about Māori tikanga and culture.

Here at ORA we are celebrating the 7 days of Matariki by showcasing 7 diverse and talented kiwi artists.

As legend tells, Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) used to lie in a tight embrace with their children stuck in the darkness between them. Their tamariki (children) were torn on whether to separate their parents, as their parting would bring ‘light’ and ‘life’ to earth. Tāne Mahuta (God of the Forest) eventually made the decision, laying on his back and using his strong feet to pull them apart. Another of their tamariki, Tāwhirimātea (God of the Winds) thought his brothers act was cruel. He was so hurt by his brother’s actions he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens, where they have looked down on man ever since. Tāwhirimātea eyes are said to have become constellations, Matariki living as a cluster of stars among them. The myth tells that Matariki is comprised of Papatūānuku and her seven sisters. The wahine rise after the winter solstice, and use their mana - their power - to help the weakened sun on his journey back south.

Translated, Matariki means ‘eyes of god’ or ‘little eyes.’ Matariki is a fundamental time for Māori. It signals a celebration, a time of renewal, and it heralds, for some Māori, the start of a new year.



Paula Coulthard - “Paikea” Humpback Whale

Limited Edition Flag Painting 
900 x 1650mm
Acrylic Paint & cotton applique on cotton canvas

Paula’s new work, from the Ika Moana Series, depicts Paikea, a humpback whale migrating towards the east coast of the South Island through the Cook Straight. Behind Paikea, the new moon is rising, and Matariki can be seen signalling Māori new year.

“My flag paintings try to capture or resonate with our emotional connection to place. I love the way there is timelessness in our landscapes. The landforms are recognisable even with the addition or subtraction of trees and buildings. My processes are very tactile. I stone wash and age the canvas I am painting on to relax it and give it life. My landscapes are often suggestive but still very recognisable. Sometimes the paintings symbolise an event that exists in memories of the landscape, real or imagined”. 

Paula Coulthard is a Wairarapa based artist who creates dynamic designs through reusing, recycling and returning to core materials and concepts. She specializes in painting flags, evoking an emotional bond between people and places.

Rebecca Larsen - Twinkle Twinkle, Matariki 

Written and Illustrated by Rebecca Larsen
Learning and understanding Matariki is fundamental to it’s place and longevity in Aotearoa. Educational resources for both children and adults is vital to ensuring this. Get ready to blast off ... New Zealand friends Pūkeko, Kiwi and Hoiho are off to explore the stars is a fantastic story that allows kids to join the characters in sing along and perform actions to the waiata  while they explore the 9 stars of Matariki. Twinkle, Twinkle. Matariki is sung in both English and Te Reo. Twinkle, Twinkle is a story unique to Aotearoa, written and illustrated by Rebecca Larsen.
The story comes with a bonus CD.

Twinkle, Twinkle Matariki is available for purchase at ORA Gallery NZ.

 Paora Tiatoa – Who We Are Huia

Original Framed Print
86 x 116 cm

Paora Tiatoa is an artist of Ngapuhi and Ngati Raukawa descent, currently living and creating his prints on Matakana Island. Paora originally painted abstract shape formations, but switched to contemporary Māori art as a senior in art school. Over the last few years, Paora has combined his skills, refining what he calls ‘ACMA,’ a convergence of mediums, creating contemporary abstract Māori artwork.

“My screen prints are not about a single issue, but rather cover many issues that are interconnected. I am attracted to beauty in whatever shape or form it may present itself to me and hold things that are precious or have cultural significance paramount in my work.” 

His piece pictured here, “Who We Are Huia” celebrates …. Huia are an extinct species of New Zealand ‘s Wattlebird, known for residing in the North Island. Officially, no Huia have been since 1906, although some say credible sightings have been as recent as the 1960s. For Māori, Huia represents nobility, leadership and hierarchy. Matariki is a time for celebration in Aotearoa, and the Huia feather does just that. The birds white- tipped tail feathers were worn by Māori as head adornments to signify chiefs and mana.

 Shane Morris – After Midnight


Textile Art 
Black & White Pasifika Wall Hanging
460mm x 1670mm

Shane Morris has been surrounded by art and creativity all her life. Shane is a Wellington based textile artist. Passionate about design and architecture, Shane has honed her skills and lifelong love affair with textiles into uniquely designed items for interiors.

Shane intertwines pakeha and Māori heritages into her work, including feathers, paua shell, flax and tapa cloth inter her work. She weaves together cultures to create cushions, table runners and wall hangings evoking pride in Aotearoa, while also showcasing it’s natural, diverse beauty. 

Shane aims to bring a sense of harmony with her work, applying design principles of balance, rhythm and proportion. Captivated by traditional Māori symbolism, patterns and weaving, koru feature frequently in Shane’s designs.

Similar to concepts intertwined in Matariki, Koru symbolise new life, growth, strength and peace.

 Wiremu Barriball – Mother of Pearl Pendants

Black and Gold Jewellery Mother of Pearl Pendants
70mm Diameter
Matai Harwood Case by John Wysocki

Wiremu is a proud Māori artist descended from  Ngati Raukawa and Te Rarawa, renowned for his stunning Ta Moko art. His journey as an artist humbly started in 1994.

When he’s not working with Ta Moko, Wiremu works with graphic design and illustration. Some of his work can be found in education resources all around the country. Wiremu’s pendants have each been hand made using Mother of Pearl so no two are the same. Each varies in colour and characteristics, adding to its individuality. The pendants come in an individually crafted wooden case, made from recycled New Zealand native Matai. 

The Puhoro pattern is symbolic of the swirling patterns in the water made by a waka plying through the waves. The Pitau pattern denotes a perforated spiral carving such as found on the figurehead of a canoe or waka.  Such waka often served as a poetic symbol for a great chief.

 Brett Rangitaawa – Uia Uia Uia, Where are you Huia?

Green and Black Cast Bronze Huia Feathers
33cm x 11cm x 7cm

In partnership with his wife Jennie Waterson, Brett Rangitaawa owns and operates The Heavy Metal Company. Brett proudly originates from Te Atiawa and Ngati Rauakawa.

Based in Wellington, Heavy Metal is an award-winning metal workshop, foundry, studio and gallery. Brett is one of Aotearoa’s most experienced foundry technicians, as well as a burgeoning bronze sculptor and artist.

Pictured here are the cast bronze huia feathers titled ‘Uia Uia Uia, Where are you Huia?’ This title is reflective of the birds’ sad extinction. The last confirmed sighting of the birds was in 1906, however some argue that credible sightings occurred as recent as the 1960s.

The Huia feather is a revered taonga (treasure) for Māori. Often stored in precious boxes called Huia Waka for safety, when worn, the Huia feathers represented leadership. They could be worn by both men and women.

Today, the Huia are often represented it Māori art, design and jewellery. We are lucky to have work such as Brett’s as it allows us to continually celebrate Huia, their feathers and the mana bestowed within them. Matariki is a time to celebrate Māori traditions and all that’s encompassed within it. Brett’s artwork allow us to do just that. 

Amber Smith – My Love For You Will Never Fade (Blessing Bowl)

Ceramic Vase
29cm x 29cm x 1.5cm

“I love words, which I use frequently in my work, incorporating Māori whakatauki (proverbs) and waiata. Songs about the nature of aroha have such an emotional resonance that they become part of the image itself.”

Ambers Blessing Bowls are hand crafted, painted with clay slip, etched and stained. The images and words are intuitively drawn, the detail is carved into the black ink with a stylus. Each piece is adorned with Māori whakatauki and waiata aroha. The tall forms on the Blessing Bowls are called kura korero. Amber explains that kura means red pigment from the earth and korero means to speak. Celebrating people coming together and having a conversation. When you place your ear over the bowl, you can hear the sea or the wind blow.

This blessing bowl features the Whakatauki, E kore e mimiti te aroha mōu, translating to "My love for you will never fade". The Tui are representative of messengers to the gods and goddesses, carrying our prayers to the heavens. The kowhaiwhai and heart is the growth and intertwined aroha.

Just as Matariki entails, her work invites us to reflect and celebrate the beauty and mana that is encompassed by them.

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