The aluminium panels of Aroha ki te Ora bring a gleaming rendition of the Ngāi Tahu creation story to Britomart's Galway Street.
Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri ki Ngāi Tahu, Samoan) uses intricate patterns in her artworks to tell stories of her ancestors. The perforated and folded aluminium panels of this work refer to the Ngāi Tahu creation story, which is unusual in that it features three protagonists: Papatūānuku, the earth, and Takaroa, the progenitor of the oceans, and protagonist, Rakinui, who Papatūānuku had a relationship with while Takaroa was away.
“I was really interested in sharing Kāi Tahu’s narrative where there were three in the relationship,” Lonnie says. “This is a bit of a difference to the creation stories of other iwi, a woman who had two lovers. She actually cheated on her first with the second one. It’s not a story that’s unheard of today – it’s kinda contemporary in that way.” Hutchinson has created two sets of three panels; one panel in each set represents each of the three characters in the creation story.
“Whakapapa accounts for the way in which the earth, sky, oceans, rivers, elements, minerals, plants, animals and all people have been created," Lonnie tells Jeremy Hansen in this interview. "All things are linked through whakapapa, as well as having their individual place in the world. Ultimately, it is whakapapa that connects people to each other, to their ancestors, to the land and natural resources.”
The artwork was commissioned in association with curator Nigel Borell as part of the 2020 exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art.