Whakapapa is Endless Beginnings*, 2021
The ocean is central here, or is it the sky? Ancestors drove their waka across both, with star navigators placing signposts for their descendants on earth and sea. A twin-hulled blue-sea waka hourua breasts the swirling currents of Moana Nui a Kiwa and the great night sky, like a pair of whales in tandem. Tere tohorā, tere tangata—where whales journey, people follow—encapsulates the essence of this synergy, while a bronze whaler swims beneath and the sun rises and sets.
Fine fronds in the earthy colours of seaweed enclose a circle of chiefly figures in radial feather headdresses, pushing upwards like the arches of the heavens. Each holds a treasure—an eel, a turtle, a stingray, a tuna, a crab, a bird, a string of fish. Here are our responsibilities to our ancestors and to our environment, to a whakapapa of endless beginnings and irreducible currents and connections.
*Quote attributed to Moana Jackson.
—Writer, Dr Billie Lythberg