MATARIKI RING OF FIRE
MATARIKI RING OF FIRE

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MATARIKI RING OF FIRE
MATARIKI RING OF FIRE

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TE URU GALLERY
TE URU GALLERY

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MATARIKI RING OF FIRE
MATARIKI RING OF FIRE

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EMILY KARAKA

MaTARIKI
RING OF FIRE

Matariki Ring of Fire.JPG

He tātai whetū ki te rangi, mau tonu, mau tonu

 

He tātai tangata ki te whenua, ngaro noa, ngaro noa…

 

A lineage of stars in the sky remains there forever

 

A lineage of folk on the earth fades away…

For over a thousand years, Emily Karaka’s forebears watched the stars’ slow journey above the ancestral mountains, the tūpuna maunga of the isthmus Tāmaki Mākaurau. As they crossed the sky, they told the people when and where to plant, what to plant, and how to harvest that bounty.

This knowledge was as deep and fecund as the volcanic soils that nourished the region’s many populous communities, ensuring significant wealth and prosperity. This knowledge is the compelling substance of the exhibition Matariki Ring of Fire. Lineage—or whakapapa—records and celebrates the relationship between the human and celestial realms, a relationship Karaka explores in this series of paintings.

 

The works were painted following her time as the first McCahon House Artist in Residence of 2021. In the late 1970s, Colin McCahon recognised Karaka’s talent and thus mentored her early career. Staying at the residence Parehuia, next to his own sanctuary, Karaka was embraced by the dappled, moist and splintered light of the Waitākere forest. Here, ideas began to take shape. Working later in her own studio, she called down the power of Matariki, the star cluster known to the West as the Pleiades, to create this sequence of colour and form, texture and memory. She also located the works within the Pacific Ring of Fire, invoking the connections of blood and lava that flow beneath the currents of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean, linking the indigenous peoples who dwell within that circle.

Fourteen mountains comprise the main section of the exhibition; they stand with dignity and purpose, each one beneath a swirl of starlight, a takarangi spiral of energy and motion, merging with each summit, spinning from a vortex of deep purple, violet and indigo. Every small white star, brightly defined, moves forward then recedes, dancing above a stately mountain.

 

Karaka has chosen a limited palette. Below the layered density of dark sky looped with unfurling bands of colour, she presents the green lushness of the maunga as they must have appeared generations ago. The shine of pounamu, glowing nephrite slopes of terraced vegetation, strong fortified sites defending verdant peaks, and, on the lower levels, bountiful māra, or kūmara plantations, neatly and naively delineated. Some maunga meet the sky with a flickering line of red—firelight declaring occupation or vigilance, or revealing the residual embers of an enduring eruption. Other maunga show off their natural adornment, sometimes spectral, almost ghostlike: the shadows of tōtara and kauri, the more substantial presence of toetoe, nīkau, tī mauku, harakeke—plants familiar and beloved to this day, plants that sustain human life. And a few maunga reach down to a sheen of deep blue harbour, luminous with potential.

 

Every maunga is named and honoured; every maunga has his or her own special story; we are introduced to ancestors like Maki, Kiwi Tāmaki, Hape, Taikehu, Wairaka, Hoturoa, and offered a sense of their mana, their power, in times long gone. Many of the names are still around today; they resonate in the hearts of their descendants, and, in a more mundane way, they mark sections of the metropolis of greater Auckland. They have not faded; they stay with us—mau tonu, mau tonu.

Effectively and authoritatively, this exhibition memorialises and reclaims these tūpuna through the physicality of their maunga, beneath the stars, beneath the influence of Matariki. The ahi-kāroa, the heartening flame that proclaims ongoing presence, and relationship with the land, never ever goes out. Like the stars, this light continues, a primal energy.

More tūpuna narratives are acknowledged by three accompanying canvases. They are poignant markers of the contemporary Māori—and, more specifically, Tainui—world. They also consider the relationships, the whakapapa, Karaka has sustained with the Kīngitanga, the connections of her own immediate family to the Movement, and their commitment to Mana Māori Motuhake: sovereignty or self-determination. This commitment has been a driving force in her forty plus years of making art.

 

Presented in their own space, the three paintings contextualise the celebrated maunga within the contemporary environment of Treaty Claims and challenging the Crown. In 2012, Karaka represented one of her iwi, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, as a signatory of Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Deed. It was legislated by an Act of Parliament two years later. This Act transferred the ownership of fourteen Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau to the thirteen iwi and hapū of the Collective; this entire show contemplates that triumph.

Modelled on the grand portal to the house Māhina-a-rangi at Tūrangawaewae Marae, the royal blue rendition of Te Paki o Matariki is a novel summoning of the midwinter constellation. Created in the time of the second Māori King, Tāwhiao, this was the official Coat of Arms, and has since become the crest of the current monarch, Tūheitia. As well as the anguish of raupatu and colonial invasion, it expresses the more recent redress and ongoing reconciliation, still a deeply sensitive issue. Sitting with this work is the Flag of Kīngi Mahuta, the third monarch. A gilded rectangle of soft colour, it features the canoe Tainui whose energetic paddlers are sheltered by the gentle arch of Uenuku, the Rainbow God, a deity of both fierce protection and abiding calm. The striking Flag of Dame Te Atairangikaahu is the third emblem. Known as ‘The Kaahu’, this was designed in 1991 for the Silver Jubilee of Dame Te Ata, the Māori Queen. Her name translates as the Soaring Falcon of the Dawn, a symbol of hope and fresh beginnings. The impact of this show is simple. Karaka does not paint and lament the present, what has been left behind. Instead, she paints what must have been; how the maunga would have looked, and felt, and sang, cloaked in forest and adorned with māra kūmara and flourishing kāinga; fortified by palisades and laced with canoe moorings. She paints how these summits chanted beneath the canopy of night, under the constellation of Matariki, greeting the New Year, sensing the season’s turning.

Maunga that were looking to us, their future. I came upon Matariki Ring of Fire at Te Uru on the year’s coldest day, in the freezing rain of midwinter. I expected a warming Karaka eruption of fiery colour. Rather, I was greeted and embraced by a meditative calm, by soothing green and subtle indigo, by sharp twists of star shine, by the beauty and sublime originality and growth of this extraordinary exhibition. E te tuakana, nā tāu reo ake, ka karanga anō ngā tūpuna maunga… Elder sister, through your voice, the ancestral mountains are singing again…

 

Ngāhuia te Awekōtuku Te Kuirau

 

Hereturikōkā 2022

Maungauika 

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Maungauika .JPG

Takarunga

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Takarunga.JPG

Ōhuiarangi

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Ōhuiarangi.JPG

Matukutūruru

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Matukutūruru.JPG

Ōtāhuhu

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Ōtāhuhu.JPG

Rarotonga

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Rarotonga.JPG

Maungarei

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Maungarei.JPG

Ōhinerau

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Ōhinerau.JPG

Te Kōpuke/Tītīkōpuke

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Te Kōpuke _Tītīkōpuke.JPG

Pukewīwī/Puketāpapa

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Pukewīwī_Puketāpapa.JPG

Te Tātua a Riukiuta

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Te Tātua a Riukiuta.JPG

Maungakiekie

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Maungakiekie.JPG

Maungawhau

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Maungawhau.JPG

Ōwairaka/Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura

mixed media on unstretched linen

2100MM x 2100mm


2022

Ōwairaka_Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura.JPG

Te Paki o Matariki

ACRYLIC ON LINEN

1650 x 1450mm


PRIVATE COLLECTION

2022

Te Paki o Matariki.JPG

Flag of Kīngi Mahuta

ACRYLIC ON UNSTRETCHED LINEN

1210 x 2170mm


PRIVATE COLLECTION

2022

Flag of Kīngi Mahuta.JPG

Flag of Dame Te Atairangikaahu

ACRYLIC ON LINEN

1305 x 1850mm


PRIVATE COLLECTION

2022

Flag of Dame Te Atairangikaahu.JPG

E noho ana au i tooku taumata 

Papaki mai ana ngaa ngaru o te moana 

Teera Mookau kei runga kei te tonga 

Ka anga whakararo ki te Hiku o Te Ika

te toka tapu ki Te Rerenga Wairua. 

Hoki whakamuri mai ki waenganui tonu 

ko Taamaki nui tonu kei te kei o taku waka a Tainui. 

Ko tona koorero, Waikato taniwharau

 he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha. 

Tihei mauriora! 

E tuu! e tuu! e taku tuahine, 

EMARE KARAKA! 

Te toihau oo ngaa mahi toi aa ngaa

tuupuna kua ngaro ki te poo.

 

Kei aa koe i roto i oo mahi koowaiwai i 

whakaputaina ko te ihi, ko te wehi, ko te 

mana me te tapu aa oo tatou tuupuna. 

 

Kua puaawai i a koe e kohikohi nei i ngaa whakaaro 

me ngaa koorero aa kui maa, aa koro maa 

 

Kia tae ai koe ki te whakaputa i roto i oo mahi peita, ko te mauri aa oo tatou maunga tuupuna. 

 

Nau e hine, i whakaohooho—i whakaaraara te 

wairua oo ngaa maunga whakahii 

 

O Taa Maki Makau Rau! 

 

Teenei, ka mihi atu kia koe. 

 

E tuu, e tuu, e kore koe e ngaro 

 

He kaakano i ruiruia mai 

 

I Rangiaatea. 

 

Naaku na too tungaane e whakaiti nei.

 

Te Warena Taua

TE URU GALLERY.JPG
Emily Karaka July 2022.JPG