Artwork by a Whangārei Girls' High School student is the only work from Northland to feature in an online album showcasing Toi Māori (Māori art).
The online album contains artwork that would have been featured in Ringa Toi, an annual exhibition showcasing student artwork with a focus on Toi Māori. The 2021 exhibition – which was to have been held at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington – was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Whangārei Girls' High student Tia Martin has two of her artworks featuring in the online gallery, titled Manawahine and Matariki.
"Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19, NZQA wanted to recognise and celebrate these talented young artists working in Toi Māori," says Alex Bidois, NZQA Deputy Chief Executive – Māori.
"Promoting these young artists encourages students to think and talk about our culture and history, while celebrating the survival of traditional art forms such as whakairo and raranga."
Tia Martin (Ngāpuhi), said of her artworks:
As a pale-skinned Māori, I'm often asked how Māori I am. Not to mention the very awkward question "If you're Māori, how come you're white?'
I don't think anyone means any harm by asking these questions and I try not to feel offended but it's challenging to explain whakapapa from a culture that isn't widely understood. After all, you can't "see" whakapapa. Colour, on the other hand, is very visible. I have always felt as though my identity was constructed on shifting sands. One minute I belong as Māori, the next minute I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. Building and creating this art piece, I have learnt to always have faith in my culture and to not doubt myself based on other people's opinions. Using the kōwhaiwhai to explore the history of my tūpuna and my own story is yet to come.
I am proud of my whakapapa and those who inspire me to always do my best. Some of these people are no longer here on the whenua, but instead watch me from above. Matariki is a time to remember our loved ones who have passed away. Capture the light to brighten your night.
So this art piece captures me standing as a proud wahine pushing to inspire Toi Māori with my whānau standing right beside me. The seven sisters, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi, representing the loved ones I have lost - John Martin, Joe Martin, Alica Baker, Randal Baker, Ann Baker, Isobella Hohepa and Toni Maree Johnstone.
Artworks by students from 20 other schools across the country also feature in the online album.
The album can be visited online at www.nzqa.govt.nz/RingaToi21