Waharua Koawa was an exhibition featuring new art works by myself and Reweti Arapere. The title,Waharua Koawa, which roughly translates as the mouths of two rivers, was as a theme connecting our works and identity to each other. This theme also allowed us to explore our own identity and whakapapa. While Reweti Arapere has whakapapa to the Rangitikei river, I am connected to the Whanganui river. The two awa tipua, or ancestor rivers, have mana that sustain the people that live on their banks. They are the place of our turangawaewae, and the bathing waters of our ancestors.
I created eight new works for Waharua ko awa. The first four were a series of pou like figures who represent the prominent ancestors on the Whanganui river. These include, Tamahaki, who I have direct whakapapa connections to, Hinengakau, Tama Upoko and Tupoho. In developing these I explored the unique carving style found along the Whanganui river.
The three circular works were inspired by well known whakatauki (proverbs) connected to the Whanganui river. These included; ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au; te taura whiri o Hinengakau, and te koura putu roa. Lastly, I created a work based on one narrative of how the Whanganui river was formed. In this story the mountain Taranaki loses his battle with Tongariro over the beautiful Pihanga. As Taranaki flees towards the coast he carves a great path. Water gushes from the side of the mt Tongariro forming what we now know as the Whanganui river.