WAITUHI Matariki public art series

WAITUHI is an annual series of public art projects timed to coincide with Matariki.

Waituhi Matariki public art project call for proposals

We are calling for proposals from our region’s Māori artists to design a series of flags for the eight flag poles at Frank Kitts Park near Whairepo Lagoon.

Installation of these flags is timed to coincide with Matariki early July and the flags will be in place for up to three months. Proposals are due on Monday 3 May.

For more information about how to propose please have a look at the Artist’s Brief (273 KB PDF).

The aim of WAITUHI is to take the festivities and kaupapa of Matariki to a wider audience beyond the traditional arts spaces of the galleries, museums and theatres, to enliven and activate public space with new artwork that acknowledges Māori culture and heritage in the city.

WAITUHI flags by David Hakaraia

WAITUHI Flags by David Hakaraia

At Frank Kitts Park and facing Whairepo Lagoon are 8 flag poles that are occupied by new designs each Matariki. These flags herald the new year and celebrate this site as one of significance to mana whenua.  

Hakaraia’s flag designs are rich in symbolism, inspired by the whai repo, stingray, that bask in the Lagoon. The triangular shape of the flag pays homage to the three iwi, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tupaia and Ngāti Haumia who established themselves in the harbour prior to European settlement, and who are represented by three stylised whai repo as kaitiakitanga.  

Either side of the large whai repo is a pattern using the unaunahi which represents the connection to the moana in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. The whai repo are orientated towards the whenua (land) of Te Whanganui-a-Tara in the lagoon and reflect the hilly landscape of the Wellington region.  Hakaraia has also used whakarare (confusion) to represent the way the whai repo use their body and wings to disturb the mudflats when they move along the bottom of the lagoon.

Hakaraia’s work incorporates both handcrafted and modern digital fabrication techniques to express culturally appropriate design solutions that acknowledge mātauranga Māori.

‘I have always had an interest in the narratives relating to my Māori heritage. These stories have captured my imagination and I relish expressing them in ways that depart from a customary tribal style, creating a design approach that is distinctly my own.’

David Hakaraia – Biography

E tū ana ahau i runga i a Rakaumangamanga
I reira a Ngātokimatawhaorua e tapa mai ana
Ka titiro iho ahau ki a Ipipiri te Moana
Ko Taumarere te awa
Ko Rawhiti te Marae e tū mai rā
Ko Ngāti Kuta me Patu Keha ngā hapū
Ko Ngāpuhi te Iwi
I tipu ake ai au i Tokoroa, i Kororāreka anō hoki
Kei te whanga o Titahi au e noho ana

After gaining a Masters in Design (Industrial Design), David Hakaraia has developed his practice as a Māori designer and exhibited both nationally and internationally. His work includes national commemorative gold and silver coins and numerous sporting awards for both rugby world cup and the commonwealth games. David is currently working as a lecturer at VUW School of Architecture and Design.

Section of Once upon a night time, including green and red silhouette of a woman and a Maori carving, dark skinned and light skinned hands in what could be a handshake, a spaceship with a beam.
WAITUHI billboard banner (section), Once upon a (night) time by Wayne Youle

WAITUHI billboard banner, Once upon a (night) time by Wayne Youle

Once upon a (night) time is a large billboard banner artwork by Wayne Youle, commissioned for WAITUHI. This work spans a 30 metre frame on Jervois Quay under the City to Sea Bridge. It comprises 21 panels that take the viewer on a journey through Wayne Youle’s practice that is part autobiographical, part retrospective and full mihi to Youle’s home town, Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Once upon a (night) time is deeply personal and rich in symbolism. Youle utilises bold, design-based elements referencing but subverting the billboard banner as an advertising format, and drawing on the work of well-known Aotearoa artists from Colin McCahon to Arnold Manaaki Wilson and Rita Angus to enhance his story and emphasise connection to place. 

Youle created this work while in lock down during March and April 2020, having just returned from the Sydney Biennale. What was going to be a two-week period of isolation swiftly turned into almost two-months of isolation.  Some of the panels reference the impact of this moment in time, from the effect on our environment to the importance of whanau and nurturers in our communities.

The starting point for Once upon a (night) time is an image of the night sky, a quiet image depicting the nine most visible stars that make up the Matariki star cluster above a waka, symbolising early ocean travel, navigation and the journey that Youle was about to embark on to make this work.

From here the work fans out like a deck of cards, an extended concertina of bold, curious images celebrating all that is important to Youle – whānau, genealogy, wahine, discovery, cross-cultural collaboration, history, education, art, design, storytelling and the importance of thinking.  The thread that connects each panel is Pōneke – its hills, the sea, people, diversity, and of course its creativity.

The final panel is a self-portrait.  Youle’s story and the people who got him where he is today are contained on the record, each white line marking-out a different story.  The record is carried on the shoulders of Rodin’s The Thinker – this sculpture symbolising Youle’s creative practice, the act of making of art and how Youle is consumed by it, always thinking about it, about images and storytelling through imagery.  This last image is surrounded by small symbols that speak to Youle’s education at Design School and the career path he chose. The symbols are also reminiscent of the Tupperware shape-ball that Youle and his children played with.  The five point star has been substituted for an eight point star, which is on the United Tribes flag – a flag that Youle believes could supersede our current one.  The skull is a symbol that reappears on and off in Youle’s work and the cross brings the first and last panels together conceptually and aesthetically.

Past projects