Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi, designed by Haoro Hond and Angus Muir, will be part of the installation for the TSB Festival of Lights: Winter Pop-up, which will take place from 23 to 26 June in New Plymouth, as part of the Puanga / Matariki celebrations. . (Image from New Plymouth District Council)
The celestial-inspired project by a young Māori artist is the first in a series he wants to create to illuminate the cultural landscape of Taranaki.
Haoro Hond’s waharoa, or gateway, will be part of the installation for the TSB Festival of Lights: Winter Pop-up show, taking place June 23-26 in New Plymouth, coinciding with the Puanga / Matariki celebrations.
The 28-year-old worked together with well-known Auckland-based lighting artist Angus Muir to create the work, which is called Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi.
The work represents a heavenly door to the center of consciousness and creativity and provides a metaphorical representation of the obstacles that must be overcome to get there.
Hond said the essence of the idea was informed by Io, the supreme god in the Te Ao Maori tradition, and the story of how life and creativity were formed.
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Hond, who is Te Ātiawa, Taranaki tuturu, Ngāruahinerangi and Ngai Tāmanuhiri, has a degree in Maori visual arts and currently works with some schools in the region, including Opunake High.
He believed that one of his goals in life was to encourage the next generation of Maori artists to come forward.
It was through a connection with his mentor, artist Wharehoka Smith, that he provided Hond with the ability to work out the original composition for Te Whatawhata Ā Rangi, which was accepted by the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC).
The work, 3 meters high and 7 meters wide, is made of polycarbonate, uses neon lighting and features a combination of golden colors of metallic chrome with flecks of glitter.
Although the gateway was only a temporary installation, he wanted to create permanent pieces that could be exhibited in other institutions around Taranaki.
“I think this project opens the door to opportunities and potential for my people.”
Hond came up with the idea of creating an entire village, which he believed could be included as part of future iterations of the hugely popular TSB Festival of Lights.
He believed that works of art such as Te Whatawhata Â Rangi helped foster a community where its members could understand and appreciate each other better.
With the passage now completed, Hond was handing it over to Ngāti Te Whiti hapū, who has mana whenua above the rohe (area) where the festival will take place, from Huatoki Plaza to the Coastal Walkway.
Hond said the partnership developed between NPDC and hapū regarding the organization of the festival was a “huge” change in which he was proud to be involved.
Along with the work of Hond and Muir, there are two other pieces at the festival related to Taranaki.
One is a series of fire baskets called Aumangea, or resilience, by artist Ngāti Te Whiti Kristie-Leigh McCulloch and the Meco Engineering team.
The other is a glow-in-the-dark mural by street artist Flox based on Taranaki’s unique flora and fauna.