MihikoingA | 2008

E kore au e ngaro, he kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea.

I will never be lost, for I am a seed scattered from Rangiatea.

(Māori proverb)

Te taepatanga o te rangi
He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga whakaa
Me matemate a marama te tangata i te
Pepeha (film stills)

Māori art might... be defined as art that looks Māori, feels Māori, is done by Māori following the styles, cannons of taste and values of

Māori culture; [while a] Māori artist might be defined as a person who identifies as Māori, is Māori by whakapapa and has some

proven ability in Māori art. A Maori new to the field of art is Māori but not yet an artist. Mead, 1986, p232.

 

The works of Mihikoinga were made during the first year on the Masters of Māori Visual Art (MMVA) programme at Te Putahi, Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. It became apparent to me very quickly that people found it uncanny that I looked Māori but definately didn't sound as if I came from New Zealand. I had lived in Jersey (GB) for 10 years, had a British accent, and was a bit of a FOB ('fresh off the boat'*). I felt like I belonged, but also felt set apart. So I went back to the very beginning - my whakapapa (geneology) and my kāinga tupu (ancestral homeland), and built my work around these themes.

 

I travelled around a lot that year, going up to Auckland to spend time with my brothers, nephew and nieces, or heading back to Waipiro Bay to go hiking, foraging and surfing, staying at my Uncles shed at the beach or with my Nanapop in Te Puia Springs. I was intent on re-connecting with my family, and my homeland during this time, and I tackled my identity from all angles to figure out how and where I fit in.

The MMVA was a huge help to resolve these issues, our crew were inclusive, welcoming and collaborative. We worked together at wananga, shared our skills, cooked for each other, and were critically honest and supportive with each others projects. This inclusive experience on the course, spending time with my family and having the opportunity to be more deeply involved in my culture lead to me making these artworks. The work for Mihikoinga is the work of a Māori artist - visually exploring and affirming the ground on which she can claim this title.

He mihi:

Ko Hikurangi te maunga,
Ko Waiapu te awa,
Ko Horouta te waka,
Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi,
Ko te Whānau a Raikairoa, Ngāi Taharora me te Whānau a Iritekura nga hapū.
Ko Mihikoinga te marae.
Ko Taharora to tangata,
Ko Harata rāua ko Hans Jahnke oku tipuna,
Ko Wiki rāua ko Ken Thérin oku mātua,
Ko Rychèl Thérin ahau.

*Colloquial term used to describe new polynesian immigrants to New Zealand.

Mead, H. M., 1986. Magnificent Te Māori: Te Māori Whakahirahira. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinmann.

© 2020 by Rychèl Thérin. All rights reserved

 

He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga whakaa

To see a face stirs the memory. Color photograph 2500cm x 40cm