Our Wellington

News | 17 December 2020

The giants of land and sea join Waitohi

When visiting Waitohi Community Hub next be sure to visit the breath-taking new artwork “Waitohi ki tai, Waitohi ki uta”, celebrating the relationship between the giants of the forest and sea – Kauri and Parāoa (sperm whale).

Image of newly installed artwork at Waitohi by local artist, Angela Kilford.

Artist Angela Kilford (Te Whanau A Kai, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) was intrigued to learn that in Māori whakapapa (genealogy) Kauri and Parāoa are brothers who once lived together in the forest.

To learn more about this legend, Angela visited Waipoua Forest in Northland to spend time with experts from Te Roroa iwi. Waipoua Forest is home to Aotearoa’s oldest and largest kauri, Tāne Mahuta, named after the god of the forest and birds.

Hori Parata tells the story of how when Tāne Mahuta was making the kauri tree, he also decided to make Parāoa (sperm whale) and the brothers lived together in the forest and swamps.

“After some time, Tane decided to gift Parāoa to Tangaroa (God of the sea), where he lived happily for years. One day Parāoa returned to his brother asking him to join him in the sea. Kauri said he preferred to stay on the land, so Parāoa gave him some of his skin, which is how he got his unique bark.” Hori Parata, Te Roroa

Through this artwork, Angela wanted to connect both the land and sea once again: “Maybe future generations will see Kauri and Parāoa brought together again if the sea levels continue to rise and meet the forest.

“I also wanted this piece to create a bridge to the nearby artworks in Waitohi. These are “Whetūrangi”, the weavings by Maureen Lander with Te Roopu Raranga o Manaia, and the carved timber panels named He Raukura by Matthew McIntrye Wilson.”

Angela Kilford is an independent artist and designer and works at the College of Creative Arts, Massey University here in Wellington. Her inspiration comes from Māori concepts and knowledge, where she explores the whakapapa of local ecology and the lesser-known connections between living and non-living entities.

The mural is printed on a type of vinyl that captures the texture of the artwork.