I was asked to make a Kowhaiwhai pattern by a lady named Kahuwhariki for the maori cultural programme (part of the Gracelands Group of Services) operating from the Whakamarama Marae. Not because I am maori (I am Ngati Pakeha, who are anything but maori) but because I have design skills. When I showed it to her she asked me what it represents… Thankfully I had thought about this while putting it together: the spirals (koru) are nurture with the big koru raising the smaller koru and the wavy line is the Waikato river (Waikato meaning flowing water). There was other stuff too but then she wanted me to shut up. Made with FreeHand in 2006.

My first piece from the Maori arts class I am taking. This is done with construction paper, the project we are building up to will be a traditional style painting, called Kowhaiwhai. The Maori had no written language in the Western sense until the British colonization of New Zealand. These Kowhaiwhai paintings were their method of recording and were used in such places as their meeting houses, called Marae, and on their war canoes, called Waka. Long panels of Kowhaiwhai in the Marae stretched from ceiling to floor, each one different and tracing the lineage of each individual family in the tribe back to the original ancestor.