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Mahi Toi: Te Herenga Waka, Hana Maihi and Poi Ngawati

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei creative Hana Maihi and Poi Ngawati have been instrumental in our reinvigoration of Te Tōangaroa.

Earlier this year, they painted their third mural collaboration within the precinct as they continue to share our  Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei stories and cultural imprint to the area.

‘Te Herenga waka’ is a mural that depicts our ancestors who voyaged across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa to Aotearoa, signified by the kiwa Manu a significant migration bird. It acknowledges our ancestral waka Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi that was captained by Rongomai.

Hana and Poi say the story of the mural is laid out to reveal its own kōrero by interpreting it from left to right and that throughout their journey of painting the piece, many have deciphered it with their own interpretation.

Reflecting on the piece, the pair say the mural illustrates their tupuna that came from Hawaiki. It showcases the trials and tribulations they had to go to find other lands, as well as complete the voyage to reconnect with whānau already on the whenua.

“Our tupuna adapted their way of life to these volcanic coastal shores of Tāmaki where single hulled waka became prominent as waka hourua voyages subsided,” says Hana.  

To illustrate the realism of the tupuna and the waka, the pair incorporated subtle yet significant details into the mural.

Poi says: “On the waka taua (war canoe) there are variations of how the tupuna are depicted. We see those you’d want to steer clear of on battlefield – and those who had a bit of hinu! Then, on the Waka Hourua (double-hulled craft) we see goods that were commonplace for a long voyage – tupuna with pēpē (babies), kurī (dogs) and poaka (pigs).”

Hana alludes to the fact that not all tamariki grow up knowing that ancestors navigated vast waters and hopes that the mural will capture the imagination of our young generation.

“For this piece, we wanted it to have an impact on tamariki. We want to inspire them to learn more about their ancestors and their courage to overcome insurmountable challenges – our tupuna did some amazing things.”

Ultimately, the pair say their main purpose for the mural is to not have people look at it for only ten seconds but take it in and look at all the subtle details.

Head down to Dockside Lane and you can reflect on the beautiful mahi for yourself.