At Whai Rawa, we have made a concerted effort to increase the integration of our culture and whānau in our mahi. The most visible initiatives have been through the reinvigoration of Te Tōangaroa with art installations and activations. Most recently, we opened a pop-up gallery and store, Mahi Toi ki Te Tōangaroa, during Matariki that celebrated whānau artists and their mahi toi.
Kororia Witika was one of our talented weavers who hosted the gallery along with Ngāti Whātua whanaunga Dale King. With an inspiring vision for the future of Māori art within Tāmaki Makaurau, we had a kōrero with Kororia about her weaving history and her commitment to elevating the hapū identity through her mahi toi.
A former school nurse and librarian at St Thomas’s school, Kororia has been weaving for around 50 years and feels as though she is always learning. She says she has always used weaving as a therapeutic form to calm her mind and reduce pressure and stress outside of work. Starting from a young age, weaving also brought back beautiful memories of time spent with her kōkara (mother). Departing from her role at St Thomas earlier this year has given her more time to spend weaving and doing what she loves.
Extremely talented, Kororia has contributed to many fantastic, commissioned pieces that can be found all over the city. The talents of our whānau weavers are on display in tukutuku panels in the Cordis Hotel, Auckland Museum, and at Mahuhu Café in Te Tōangaroa. Currently, she is working on a panel for St David’s Church, along with teaching others how to weave Tukutuku.
Kororia also weaved kono baskets that were filled with locally made treats and gifted to new homeowners in Oneoneroa and is working on 13 more for the new residents set to move in over the next couple of months.
As a host at the Mahi Toi ki Te Tōngaroa pop up, Kororia is looking forward to future activations in the precinct. Although the gallery was temporary, Kororia says it was a step in the right directon and hopes that over time there will be a permanent shop for whānau to bring and display their mahi.
“Traditional pieces of art needs to be celebrated, not just souvenirs that you see in gift shops. That is what the gallery brings, a chance to share our culture.”