Title: ‘Kōhatu Tipua’ – (Supernatural Stones).
Media: HD Video – mōteatea, digital weaving.
Duration: 3:02 mins – (3 verse 1min each).
Film location: Otakamiro Point, Maukatia Bay, Motutara Island, Muriwai.
Artist: Tanya Te Miringa Te Rorarangi Ruka, Ngati Pakau, Ngapuhi.
Comissioned by CIRCUIT Artist Film & Video, Aotearoa, NZ, Mason Screen, Matariki, Wellington Public Art.
Matariki is a time of renewal, my ancestors would use this time in winter to take stock and plan pathways for the following seasons. Ancestral wayfarers observed natures patterns and seasonal changes were key to survival. The migratory patterns of sea birds would often signal key times to travel the long waka journeys between islands and from the Pacific islands to Aotearoa. This Matariki coming out of our globally shared experience of a pandemic, we find ourselves in a strange communal space, taking stock and navigating new pathways forward to benefit a different future from the time before. In this 3 verse visual *mōteatea film, the landscape and seascape of Maukatia Bay, Otakamiro Point and Muriwai are depicted, followed by digital weavings of the same scene. The digital weaving represents the rich tapestry of hidden stories and histories of the past that lie within the landscape and seascape. A notorious stretch of wild coastline, many lives have been lost out at sea and along the shoreline. Muriwai was the location of one of the biggest Pā sites on the Westcoast, and is the reason why the work is titled ‘Kōhatu Tipua’ (supernatural stones). The native forests and ocean were abundant with wild food, and the volcanic soil grew the biggest kumara and healthiest taro – the envy of other local tribes, meant continual skirmishes until Ngati Whātua won the land. Eventually it was turned into grazing land and today it is a small village of homes with increasing new divisions pushing ever closer from city suburbs, extensive pine forestry and some regenerating native forest patches that have grown over and hide the tapu, (sacred sites) and artefacts of the original inhabitants.
The focus of this video piece is the gannet colony that spans from Motutara Island to Otakamiro Point, these giant seabirds return to their colony around spring each year from Australia. In the 1st verse we see the ocean view looking towards and below the gannet colony from Maukatia (now known as Māori Bay). The 2nd verse is the land, the native plants, harakeke blown by the wind on the cliff top surrounding the gannets nests and the 3rd verse is the flight of the gannet filmed on Otakamiro Point looking towards Muriwai coastline. The work seeks connection to place and ancestry, filmed just before the level 4 lockdown announcement and edited through the following levels. I became increasingly aware of the comfort I felt connecting to the ancestral stories of the lives lived in this place, in observation of seasonal changes, listening closely to the land and the sea, and finding an increased awareness of the wild spirit that is held within this place.
*(song poetry traditionally chanted).