They are two serene landscape paintings with waka (canoes), both inspired by Maori voyaging legends.
Calling all you Cantabrians!
Head along to Bryce Gallery and check them out. In person you will be able to appreciate the smoothness of the paintwork and the level of detail that has gone into the native huia birds and intricately carved waka prows.
Behind the Paintings…
Toia mai te waka
“Toia Mai Te Waka” means “pull up, the canoe” and is part of an ancient canoe-hauling chant. Now it is most often chanted as a ‘haka pöwhiri’ to symbolically pull the ‘canoe’ of the visitors safely onto the marae.
This painting is a symbol of the arrival of humans to Aotearoa. Two huia birds, a now-extinct native species, are watching the unfamiliar vessel as they perch on a branch next to a native kaka beak flower.
Sofia was inspired by the legend of Kupe, the great Polynesian navigator. Kupe is said to have journeyed from Hawaiiki, the mythical ancestral homeland of the Maori, to become the first person to discover Aotearoa. Matahorua was the name of his great ocean going vessel and it is pictured in this painting with an intricately carved bow piece, resting upon the shores of Aotearoa after its immense journey.
Maui’s Waka Rests on High
“Maui’s Waka Rests on High” refers to Mt Hikurangi on the East Cape of the North Island of New Zealand as being the resting place of the waka (canoe) of Maui, the infamous Polynesian demi-god who legend tells fished up the North Island.
One day when Maui and his brothers went fishing far out into the ocean he dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the waka. He felt a strong tug on the line and after much straining and chanting of karakia (incantations), there surfaced Te Ika a Maui (The Fish of Maui), also known as the North Island of New Zealand.
Hikurangi is the sacred mountain of Ngati Porou, the people from whom Sofia decends. It is said to be the first piece of land to have emerged when Maui fished up the North Island. According to Ngati Porou tradition, Maui’s waka Nukutaimemeha remains stranded on the mountain and is depicted in this painting with its intricately carved tauihu (bow piece) emerging from rocks on the peak. Pouakai eagles – a large native species with a wingspan of up to 3 metres that went extinct c.1400 A.D. – are shown flying near the ancient vessel. To this day the pouakai and the mountain itself are guardians or ‘keepers’ of the Nukutaimemeha.
Posted by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings