Meet the Makers // In celebration of Matariki, The Poi Room is delighted to be hosting the Weaving Group - Te Roopu Kotuku Rerenga Rangi & their exhibition 'Ngahuru Hei Mahia Tō Tātou Ao // Thread The Past So That The Younger Generation Can Progress‘.
Get to know the makers below & see their work on our website or at our Newmarket gallery from the 17th of July to the 31st of July.
Aroha Mitchell // Aroha is based in Rotorua and is a multimedia artist and teacher.
She studied at Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua 1989 – 1992. It was here that she studied painting and developed an interest in harakeke. 2013 Aroha graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts, majoring in paint from Whitecliffe College of Art & Design.
All of Aroha’s works draw on tribal memories and speak of connection, whakapapa & identity.
As a weaver, Aroha believes the very nature of raranga connects her to her tūpuna, culture, and the whenua through the practice of this ancient art form.
James Schuster // Ngati Pikiao, Tuhourangi, Ngati Tarawhai, Tuwharetoa
James was born and raised in Rotorua. His family has practised and maintained Maori Arts and Crafts for generations.
Traditional knowledge and skills have been passed down through the family, and has led to his current position as Maori Built Heritage Advisor, Traditional Arts, with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.
Catherine Schuster // Catherine is based in Rotorua. She specialises in piupiu making, kakahu (cloaks), and tukutuku (woven wall panels). She has gained much of her knowledge alongside her husband James Schuster, working with him on many marae restoration projects, and creating new works. She particularly enjoys the harvesting and processing of the natural resources required. Retention of traditional arts and knowledge around weaving, is at the heart of her practice as a weaver.
Dr Donna Campbell // Ngāpuhi me Ngati Ruanui
Rotorua based Dr Donna Campbell is a Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Creative Practice in the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato and is a practicing artist.
“I like to make work that challenges me in technique, form and design. The process is very much a dialogue between the materials, Te Ao Māori and me. It is a reciprocal relationship where the material responds, the maker responds, in a cyclical interchange. The practices of raranga and whatu are passed on to us from our ancestors, they are imbued with Mātauranga Māori. The knowledge of our ancestors is valued in the present, and through creative practice in the fibre arts we can maintain and pass on these treasures.”
Fiona Walker Jones // Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri ki Turanganui a Kiwa
Fiona has been weaving with Harakeke (New Zealand flax) for 26 years – predominantly kete whakairo – often embellished with feathers, shells, beads or pihepihe (tags).
“Our traditional techniques have always intrigued me, the beauty, precision and execution of the many twists and turns of whenu, the combination of elements to create works that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing continues to inspire and excite me.
I have long admired the form and pattern of Native American twined baskets, particularly the beautiful work of Pat Courtney Gold. 'Lockdown' level 4 became the perfect opportunity for a change in creative direction, a new challenge full of wonderful possibilities. My appreciation for this ancient technique crosses cultures, time and space and is immeasurable.
My thanks and gratitude to Pat Courtney-Gold of the Wasco Nation of Confederated Tribes, Warm Springs, Oregon USA. My aroha and respect to my teacher, mentor and friend Christina Wirihana.”
Frances Rangiawha // Ngāti Te Rangiunuora, Ngāti Pikiao
Frances is based in Mt. Maunganui.
She has been weaving for many years, working in a variety of fibre m ediums, including harakeke (flax), muka harakeke (flax fibre) and pīngao (coastal sedge grass), making kete (traditional baskets), whāriki (mats) and flax-based artworks such as porowhita raranga (woven circles).
Her current focus is a large-scale group project making a series of patterned whāriki for a wharenui (meeting house).
Hectorina Mulligan // Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Hinehika and Irish descent.
Hectorina is based in Putaruru.
From what began as a special interest, raranga for Hectorina evolved over the years into a passion and total appreciation of the many traditional artforms of weaving.
“I feel proud to be able to uphold and pass on these skills to others.
He taonga tuku iho o ngā tupuna.”
Karmen Thomson // Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai te Whatuiapiti, Ngati Tuwharetoa
“Learning Raranga and Raranga Whatu has opened my eyes to the incredible talent and skill set of our Ancestors. The intricacies and refined techniques used were so masterful and breath-taking. This level of expertise is something I will always strive to reclaim in honour of my tipuna and my Kaiako.”
Meleta Tania Bennett // Ngapuhi, Ngati Ranginui
Meleta is based in Rotorua. She likes to share her knowledge of weaving and to continue to pass on the cultural skills and practices of the elders, in turn, creating a link for future generations of new weavers.
Meleta utilises a range of customary techniques and enjoys working with different natural mediums. She has participated in exhibitions nationally and internationally.
Sonny Hape // Ngāti Pukeko
Whakatāne based weaver, Sonny Hape, has been enjoying shadowing her weaving mentors since the early 2000’s alongside her mother Glenda Hape. Initially, a helper of exhibitions and around the classroom, Sonny eventually got her hands on natural resources and hasn’t stopped tinkering since. Sonny is a semi-professional ecologist and an amateur māra kai enthusiast.
Tangimoe Clay // Ngati Ngahere, Te Whakatohea
Tangimoe was raised in Oponae and attended Queen Victoria Maori Girls boarding school.
She has owned and operated her own business in Opotiki for 22 years.
Her life philosophies are emmersed in the Maori arts which she finds both challenging and endearing.
Christina Hurihia Wirihana, Toi Iho Artist // Ngati Maniapoto-Raukawa, Ngati Whawhakia, Ngati Pikiao
Christina is a contemporary artist acclaimed in Aotearoa and internationally for her weaving which incorporates a mixture of customary and new practices.
Weaving has been Christina’s life. She has shared her art experiences through exhibitions, artist residencies, conference presentations and art commissions. Christina advocates and researches innovative pathways for Maori weavers through her national and international networks.
Christina and her Mother, Matekino Lawless QSM, have an established relationship as weavers and good friends. Their unique team partnership shares their inter-generational expertise.
Since 1988 Christina has maintained a long association with the Longhouse at Evergreen State College, Olympia, USA, and continues to advocate their vision to support Indigneous Research and Art Symposiums. This association will continue with the possibility of creating more opportunities for up and coming researchers and artists of the future.
Matekino Lawless QSM, Toi Iho Artist // Ngati Maniapoto- Raukawa, Ngati Whawhakia, Ngati Pikiao
Matekino has been weaving for over 70 years and tributes her learning to the people of the Ngati Pikiao Tribe, Te Arawa. She is a respected elder, well known as a weaver among her people and a role model who emphasises quality as her benchmark.
During her early weaving years, Matekino preferred to weave within the comfort of her home with her family. Her passion for weaving then encouraged her to look beyond her family and she enjoys sharing her expertise of Toi Raranga, Whatu and Tukutuku with people who are keen to learn.
Matekino’s contribution to the Art of Weaving has gained national recognition and acknowledgment by being awarded the Queens Service Medal (QSM), Creative NZ, Te Waka Toi, Kingi Ihaka Award, Te Waka Toi Supreme Award, Toi Tohu Aroha mo Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and she is a Fellow of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Teresa Murray // Teresa was inspired to weave as a child watching her Kuia Merepeka Naira King. She had been a tutor at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute for over 38 years.
Other than her whanau, Raranga and Whatu has become a passion in her everyday life of which gives Teresa such enjoyment with the experimenting of traditional and contemporary techniques.
Glenda Hape // Ngati Pukeko, Ngati Rangataua, Te Aitanga a Mahaki
Glenda has had an interest in weaving for as long as she can remember, but in recent years has enjoyed challenging technical boundaires and combining multi-media in her form making. Her strong multimedia passion draws attention to exploring with discarded biodradable waste, created from former projects extending their life form into a new entity.
Para Matenga // Te Arawa, Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao, Tuwharetoa, Rongowhakaata
Para is a 2018 graduate from New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Raranga. During her time studying an appreciation towards whatu raranga formed igniting her passion towards all things Maori.
Ross Wesche // Te Whakatohea
Ross has been weaving for more than 20 years. During which he has continued to be inspired by his surroundings, landscape, mountains and rivers. Ross’s ancestral links connect him to his tupuna, which makes him feel very fortunate.
Cori Marsters // After leaving Rotorua Boys High School, Cori had intended to take up a career in conservation – perhaps that tied in well with his childhood spent harvesting flax in the Pā Harakeke – but as the descendant of a long line of carvers, he was pushed towards taking up the chisel. He enrolled at the carving school at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua and graduated as a Pokairua in Whakairo Rakau in 2013.
In 2014 he won the Creative NZ Iti Waewae (emerging Māori artist) award. Born and raised in Rotorua, in 2017 Cori graduated with a Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts – Raranga from Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
We chatted with Simon to get a bit of an understanding about this exhibition and what made him create the pieces he did.