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  • Writer's pictureLara Thorne

Bluff Mural

Project Driver Shell Wilson

Te Hononga (Many connections) Deeply passionate about the Bay of Islands and protecting the environment for the children of our future and inspiring, UPSURGE ARTS FESTIVAL trustee SHELL WILSON and mural artist ERIKA PEARCE, worked collaboratively with the community to create a piece that would inspire stories to be told and to raise awareness of the importance of the health and wellbeing of ourselves, our whenua and our moana. Both work toward connections. Connecting stories through the medium of this visual art display, they work toward inspiring our communities to re-connect and to be the change they want to see in the world.

The Koru: representing Taniwha Hine Riri, to remind us of our coastline, comes in the form that illustrates new beginnings towards making a positive change, the same representation found in the new learnings and knowledge learnt at Motumaire. The blue represents the swirls created by the waka hoe entering the water. Each stroke carrying the paddlers tupuna. The darkness of the swirl represents the deep part of the Moana and the darkness we have created that need addressing and to move forward with. The dusting representing the new flow we are all embarking on.

Tangaroa’s Children: placing the viewer of the mural in the depths of the ocean it is hoped that the message of protecting our ocean resonates; the humpback whale was a popular answer when asked what animal of the ocean held the most spiritual significance. Symbolising creative energies it recognises the need for healing, both physically and emotionally; reminding individuals to rely on their inner strength to navigate emotional depths and distances. Selected as the one of the main features, this migrating giant of the south pacific is also very important for acknowledging the assistance they would provide for navigational paths on waka journeys. The orca who frequents our shores held the most similar makings of a human whanau. Orca travel as a whanau and have a matriarchal hierarchy, with the grandmother making most of the decisions to oversee her whanau with valuable learnings and teachings, a reminder to acknowledge the teachings and learnings from our kaumatua and our kuia and to in return look after them. Three prong the bottlenose dolphin is acknowledged and was also a popular answer for what had the most spiritual significance, along with the stingray and striped marlin. Kaitiaki: with hope in her eyes, she represents yesterday, today and tomorrow. She delivers inspiration for positive change. She encourages unity and positive future actions.

The white feather: representing the Taiamai, we also recognise Ranginui and Tawhirimatea. The feather also carries a symbol of peace and acknowledgment to all our loved ones that have passed away. Connect with the stories from this area. 1. The Taniwha Hine Riri whose body, according to local legend, forms the ridgeline above the bluff which maori actually named ‘Nihonui’ the big tooth as it forms part of Hine Riri’s body. 2. The southern blue marlin which in te reo is an old name for the bay between Russell, Paihia and Waitangi ‘Takeketonga’. 3. The sea hawks such as Tukaiaia and Tu Te Mahurangi who reign in the skies from Motu Kokako (hole in the rock) to the sacred inland mountain landmark Pouerua. 4. The famous Taiamai, a bird that brought knowledge from the heavens and gifted it to the people of this area. Taiamai is another old maori name for a section of the bay of islands region starting from the coastline stretching all the way inland to Ngawha. 5. Pikopiko I Whiti is a lagoon in Hawaiki (the traditional homeland of the maori). When Kupe arrived here from Polynesia 1000 years ago the name Pikopiko I Whiti was given to the inlet heading up to Waikare and the Taumarere river. 6. Just out from the bluff is Motu Maire, the mystical island that holds a sacredness to the ancient maori priests as it was once a sanctuary set aside as a school of higher learning. The maire is a tree that practitioners performed their wizardry on, not only to kill the tree but to also bring it back to life. Connect with your responsibilities as a kaitiaki. A kaitiaki is a guardian, and the process and practices of protecting and looking after the environment. Our responsibility to the stories shared, the whenua, the moana and the children that rely on the health of it. The teachings to help raise awareness to our younger generations. Our job to look after nature. Our job to show our gratitude for preserving for the next generations.

Connect with the moana and the whenua. The site sits on the rocky shores of the Moana nestled in the ngahere on Nihonui. Reminders of the importance of looking after Tangaroa and Papatuanuku. Reminders to reconnect with nature, to breathe in the air, to be grateful for this moment. Reminders to acknowledge the strength of Marama and Te Ra. Reminders to stroll to the nearest waters to remember your place, and trust you heart.

Sponsors: this mural was sponsored by the FOCUS PAIHIA COMMUNITY CHARITABLE TRUST and was a free event of the 2019 UPSURGE ARTS FESTIVAL programme. All paint materials were sponsored by KERIKERI COLOUR SHOP. Accommodation for Erika Pearce was sponsored by KINGSGATE AUTOLODGE HOTEL PAIHIA and THE SCENIC HOTEL BAY OF ISLANDS, PAIHIA. EXPLORE NZ for providing Erika with an afternoon on the moana. SALT AIR for providing Erika with a bird’s eye view of inspiring colours from our coastlines. Lunches and refreshments for Erika Pearce were provided by EL CAFE, HARURU FALLS CAFÉ/TAKEAWAYS, LETZ CAFE, ANDY’S NOODLE KITCHEN, COUNTDOWN PAIHIA, CHARLOTTE’S KITCHEN, and ALFRESCO’S.Contributions: this community project was collaborated with ERIKA PEARCE’S passion for conserving our ocean, MICHELE WILSON’S passion to connect people through creative processes and the stories shared by NGATI KAWA TAITUHA and whanau, WIREMU CASH, and WIREMU WIREMU. Ideas were also shared by the tamariki at PAIHIA PRIMARY SCHOOL and the PAIHIA COMMUNITY. A huge thank you and special mention to those who also helped with executing this project through physically giving up their time, providing advice or inspiration or just being there at a drop of a hat: GRANT HARNISH, BRUCE GORDON, KENT THWAITES, TODD EVERS, KARL WILSON, THE STAFF AT SALT AIR, DEREK MILLER FROM BAY PAINTING SERVICES LTD, LEE FLEE, JOE LATU, REX AND THE PAIHIA FIRE BRIGADE, JOANNE HALLIDAY, SARAH RILEY, DARRON BURT, TAYLOR FROM MAHOLO TRANSPORT, STELLA SCHMID, THE STAFF AT ITM PAIHIA, COWLEYS HIRE WHANGAREI and HIRECORP KERIKERI, to all those who stopped and helped paint the mural and to those who said hello and encouraged her at different times of the day.


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