14 Apr Mural a Cultural Collaboration for Whānau Tutor Students
This term in Whānau Tutor we have been working hard on a beautiful mural that will be displayed on Rae Block near the Student Centre. We spent two days researching and preparing for the mural with artist Eliza Donald, figuring out what should go where, and long hours disagreeing on the placement of everything, but it was all worth it in the end.
This mural is based on Kupe’s journey and how our ancestors navigated their way to Aotearoa. Kupe was a Polynesian explorer, navigator, Rangatira of Hawaiki, and the first-ever human to discover the country we call Aotearoa.
It first starts with the beautiful story about the gigantic Te Wheke (octopus). Kupe was very annoyed by the difficulties of how hard it was to fish in Hawaiki, Kupe’s homeland. When Kupe realised that Te Wheke was the one eating all the food in Hawaiki, Kupe made the decision to chase him across the Pacific all the way to Aotearoa. This is why we have Te Wheke on our mural because without Kupe having a reason to sail out, Kupe wouldn’t have discovered Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Then we are introduced to the waka (canoes) which represent our ancestors sailing to New Zealand. Many iwi left at different times and ended up in different parts of New Zealand, for example, Tākitimu sailed to the East Coast of the North Island, Tokomaru sailed to the top of New Zealand and many other iwi sailed to the Coromandel. Other features such as the stars, birds, and moths were ways that our ancestors were able to tell if they were close to land.
During the process of planning and working out what would go on the mural, we decided to have the hammerhead shark underneath New Zealand. The reason being that the hammerhead shark represents the spirits of not only the students of Pakuranga College but the spirits of New Zealand itself. The hammerhead shark represents the relentlessness and resilience that students at Pakuranga College portray. There is this Māori saying “Kaua e mate wheke, mate ururoa” which means “don’t fight like an octopus, fight like a hammerhead shark”. This whakatauki shows the strength that students at Pakuranga College show and how hard they work to achieve their goals and dreams.
At first I was uncertain about the whole mural, but it became one of the biggest achievements for my culture and myself. Being part of something like this is so important, not only for myself as a Māori student, but for my peers who share the same cultural identity. The atmosphere during the mural creation was a warm feeling that help me grow closer with my peers. We shared stories, laughs, but most importantly we shared our passion for our culture. We put our time and effort into this project and couldn’t be more proud of the outcome. I’m sure many of you know the saying “do the mahi, get the treats” – this is a prime example of hard work and dedication, where we are treated with a beautiful mural, as well as the fact that our hard work will be displayed near the front entrance where everyone can see it. It was a great experience that I hope one day everyone will get to experience.
Reigan Popata-Williams – Year 12