My artworks in Hono re-establish lines from atua to tohunga to tangata—from gods to spiritual guides to people.
Each piece represents a different atua. I am trying to reconnect the spiritual lines that have been broken because our tohunga, our guides here on this physical earth, are affected by all the problems that Māori face: addiction, mental health, prison, poverty ... Without healthy tohunga in the community, doing their work, the people suffer. This is what I see happening. I am not methodical in what I collect; I go with what I am gifted from Tangaroa and I follow it—follow it, putting the wairua in the forefront, instead of the hinegaro. I have to interpret my unique process, know that it is the right path for me to take, and be true to that. The beach determines what I gather—Ōtaki Beach, where I live. The driftwood is amazing. The other day, there was a huge tide and all of these big beautiful shells popped up. They have their own language and symbolism; each shell is different. There are some incredible tohu between the conch shells of the Pacific. The shell culture is coming back. We are appreciating and valuing the shells, making lei, and wearing them every day, just as they do in the islands—because we are in the islands!
LISTEN: Neke Moa from ISLAND Magazine Issue 03. Written and read by Jade Townsend.