Stevei Houkamau ✿ Kahu for Matariki


24 June 2021

Stevei Houkamau, Kahu, Botpot black clay and paint pen

Keri-Mei Zagrobelna shares a carved ceramic object whose spiral raperape pattern resonates with the Māori New Year, Matariki.

Artist Stevei Houkamau observes this year’s celebrations with her piece “Kahu”

Houkamau has meticulously hand-carved and formed this hue (gourd) piece which speaks of rebirth as we move forward into this new year. Its colour representation makes it seem as if it appears from the ashes and this is reflected through its clay firing technique that takes the piece up to 1200 degrees.

The spiral-like pattern, traditionally called “Raperape”, wraps around the ipu (gourd) as the tipuna (ancestors) protecting, nurturing and guiding this next generation.

Stevei considers the vibrations of language to highlight Matariki as a traditional time for story sharing in the colder winter months through her usage of the circles within the work. This is the time that our younger generation is hearing the whispers from our Tīpuna/ whenua (ancestors/land).

Like the Matariki stars up above us at this time these circles are also like eyes watching and protecting its whakapapa.

I like to think that this piece can make us reflect on these values that Matariki brings at this time of the year. We are brought closer to those traditional stories and connections that Houkamau has beautifully brought to our attention through her creative practice as an artist.

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Artist Interview by Pataka Gallery and Museum

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