I raro te kāhui whetū o Matariki
Friday was the last day at my old job, so I walked around the whole building saying goodbye to everyone. Just as I was heading out the front doors someone whispered, ‘Bridge—your skirt is tucked into your stockings…’ I hope they’ll remember me fondly.
Saturday was my birthday and the Matariki new moon. Matariki has been crazy this year, many new beginnings, some embarrassing old endings, lots of ups and a few downs. One particular new ‘up’ is getting to hang out at The Dowse. As the newly ordained Blumhardt/Creative New Zealand Curatorial Intern, I’m excitedly following in the footsteps of some cool people who did some cool shows. I’m also allowed to eat and drink at my desk, something that I couldn’t do at my old job and so now there are Barry Brickell cups happily piling up around me.
My first day here we sung some songs in front of Nuku Tewhatewha. What a nice introduction to this amazing Pataka and its fascinating history. Roger Neich reckons that there were only one or two Pataka that had a woman carved on the kūwaha (door, entrance). And the woman on the kūwaha of Nuku Tewhatewha is breastfeeding. I think about breast milk being like liquid gold with immeasurable beneficial qualities for baby (and I’m sure the connection with mum is pretty special too). Stay with me now, because here is where it gets interesting. So (according to some) Hinetītama was the first woman and she was made from the earth aka Papatūānuku. The word nuku also means earth.
So here we have a Pataka built in 1856 as a symbolic gesture to support Māori sovereignty through the Kīngitanga movement. That in itself is awesome. But on the entrance, is what I consider a direct reference to the importance of women and simultaneously Papatūānuku with her immeasurable life giving, qualities. That’s some smart art!
Because I’ve still got my curatorial training wheels on, I’m going to leave all that information with you to further form your own art synapse. Final words: hello Matariki and yeah art!