The People Weaver mural in Onehunga is one of a number of planned murals in the Ngā Atua Hou series that celebrates community champions.
The murals link them to mātauranga and the ancient Māori gods. The series uses painting and illustration to visualise the attributes of the many atua, what strengths they possess and their importance to our environment and natural surroundings.
Local artists Bobby MacDonald and Amiria Puia-Taylor have worked with 18 children from Onehunga Primary School, and youth from Onehunga’s 312 Hub, on the mural that will be brought to life on 22 and 23 June to celebrate Matariki.
The painting at 77 Selwyn Street portrays Amiria ‘The People Weaver’ with the atua of weaving and fertility, Hine-te-iwaiwa. Painted in March this year, the work will come alive during Matariki over two nights of storytelling.
A 30-minute animated digital overlay will play three times a night, with a soundscape of taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments) and the voices of the school children telling the story of Amiria’s cry to the atua for guidance, seeking her superpowers to heal the Manukau Harbour.
The digital story is a call to action, says Amiria. “We need to all work together to protect the Manukau Harbour because traditionally, it was our food bowl.”
The process for the mural was guided by the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) and the project has allowed for wider conversations around environmental sustainability, community responsibility and how Western science and Māori knowledge systems can come together to protect our natural resources.
For MacDonald, who grew up in the city, Ngā Atua Hou is also an opportunity for him to learn more about his own, and other cultures, particularly in working with children of Tongan, Fijian, Pākeha, Japanese and Filipino heritage.
“Murals are a way our communities can connect with Māori culture, while also igniting curiosity to connect to more mātauranga. The kids we are working with are aged 8-10 years and were learning about atua Māori in the classroom. This project is a way we can enhance that, while also sharing their stories and perspectives, too,” he says.
The vision for Ngā Atua Hou is to create more murals across the city, celebrating local champions and raising awareness of local issues.
Youth from the 312 Hub will be giving guided tours from the hub to the mural each night of the activation.