“Toitū te whenua, Whatungarongaro te tangata”

 Painting explanation:

Toitu te whenua is a painting celebrating our connection to the land, to Te Ira Atua (the devine energy), our connection throughout the Pacific and beyond and our historical events and narratives that have helped to shape and form who we are personally as well as a nation.  

  The large female image represents our atua wahine (define elements) related to the whenua, in particular Papatūānuku, Hineahuone, Parawhenuamea and the birther of land-  Pelehonuamea (Hawaii).   Reflected in this painting is also our connection to Hawaiki through the ring of fire and the story of Ngatoroirangi.  On top of Tongariro, Ngatoroirangi started to freeze, so he called to his sisters Te Hoata and Te Pūpū who brought subterranean fire from Hawaiki, to warm him so he didn’t freeze to death on top of Tongariro.  Wherever they popped up for air, a volcanic island was born. Thus creating our subterraneoun connection to the islands of the Pacific. 

Painted at the time of the protests for Maunga Ke’a, Ihumatao and other indigenous land rights occupations, Toitu acknowledges the freedom fighters through the generations who have made a stand for human rights, work continuously towards physical, mental and spiritual wellness for our communities.   I was brought up with a mother who fought for human rights in the late 70’s to the late 80’s, the songs of solidarity of that time are painted in the background of the painting to remind us of the work that has happened to get us here, as well as the continued work for us all in the future.  Acknowledging the actions of the past, we are able to move into the future with renewed strength and vision as each person has a part in creating our future.