Rei Hamon, Kauri forest, waterfll, ngahere, ghost trees, ferns, pointilism, waiora, forest scene, ancient,

Hau Ora Project

How exciting my first post!

The perfect opportunity to share a recent commission from Whangaroa Health services – to create a series of paintings to adorn the walls of the main building.

The tikanga is Hau ora – well being and the kaupapa is Nga Tapa Wha – The four cornerstones of Maori health that acknowledges the link between the mind, spirit, body and whanau.

Until the introduction of Western medicine these dimensions were interwoven with no division between them.

This space (Whangaroa Health building) has strong personal connections as my grandmother worked there for many years in the laundry. Years later it was to be her place of departure – as it has been for many, so this space is particularly special for many whanau of Whangaroa.

Whangaroa Hospital Services (WHIST)

Hau Ora is an area familiar to me and is well researched, so creatively and contextually, I can hit the ground running!

In fact the visuals have begun to flow, instinctively. With intuition as my guide, the natural world of Whangaroa is the source. Here the mythology, metaphor, symbology, history and genetic memory are etched into the Whenua (land).  I just have to go looking…

Here are the wall spaces to be adorned.


Taha Tinana – The physical world

To begin the creative process for this project I’ll head to the Puketi and Omahuta forest, the domain of Tane to photograph and sketch our last remaining Kauri here in Whangaroa.

I liken the Kauri that once covered the Whenua from shore to sky like the skeleton, giant bones, holding up the sky – Ranginui, from the earth mother – Papatuanuku. The Kauri metaphorically represents our physical body.

In the slider below, the first image I reference for inspiration is by NZ artist Rei Hamon titled ‘Lost heritage’ 1971. He was famous for using Pointillism, a technique using dots to create tone – 3 dimensions. I am particularly drawn to this scene because it triggers genetic memory of a time long gone.

Sorry the photo isn’t the best but the detail in his artwork is incredible!

The second slide is an Indian ink drawing influenced by the Rei Hamon image. This is how I generate ideas sometimes… through artist models who resonate with my own visualisations. Indian ink is fluid, the perfect medium to capture energy/mauri of the Kauri represented – roots and branches – a reflection of above and below.  Also interpreted as internal and external – the seen and the unseen.

The third slide/s where taken from a visit to the Kauri reserve up the Waiare/Opokorau River. Here we have a majestic stand of Kauri and wanted to experience standing and walking among them.  This is how I source information/inspiration from the natural world – you have to physically and subjectively absorb yourself in it. I love the Ponga fronds in these photo’s they remind me of lace or a web – representing the fragility of our environment that seems to be somewhat under siege. Kauri die back is another issue impacting on our natural world here in Whangaroa.  Thankyou Ramona for your company and enlightening conversation shared with the Kauri.

The fourth lot of slides are Kauri gum that my friend Bevis specked for at Henderson Bay. An impressive collection that took 8 hours of walking to collect with an array of gum marking periods of time. I was drawn especially to the earthy golden tones as a potential color scheme. The bone photographed among the gum is a Moa bone – also found at Henderson Bay, a very old Moa bone according to Bevis. I was drawn to the cell like matrix structures on the interior of the bone, I found them painterly…



Taha Wairua – The spiritual world

This drawing needed no coaxing, it just flowed. Its a work in progress, but I think I’ve got something solid to work with. The imagery speaks for itself… I’m going to enjoy the evolution of this painting because it features a powerful context that inspires and empowers me, Mana Wahine.


Taha Whanau – the family

This is a painting I’ve been working on but am yet to finish. I’ld like to push on from it as a possible composition for Taha Whanau. On oneside I’ll represent the Rongoa – medicinal plants, and on the other Kai Mauri – cultivated foods.  The aim is to create a sense of abundance with a mass of growing vines, flowers, life, vitality, regeneration. Again watch this space for further developments…


Taha Hinengaro – Consciousness

With the rangatahi (youth) of Whangaroa in mind, I’m going to dedicate Taha Hinengaro to them! I think a street art style can be used to express this concept of consciousness.

This mural is located at Whangaroa College in the Hall/Gym and was painted with the help of students. This will be particularly fun to develop as the street art genre is one of my favourite!


Watch this space for further developments…





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