Story: Ngāpuhi

‘The waka transformation’, 2001

‘The waka transformation’, 2001

‘The waka transformation’ is a painting from the ‘Blackout movement’ series by the important Ngāpuhi artist, Shane Cotton. The artist describes the work as restaging Māori spiritual and temporal awakenings by reviewing Ngāpuhi acculturation into Christianity and examining tribal identity. He invokes the spirit of acclaimed Hokianga tohunga Papahurihia and his loyal followers, depicting them travelling in a waka (canoe) across a dark canvas; perhaps reciting karakia (prayers). By probing moments in history from the vantage point of a descendant, Cotton’s intention is to unmask and create contemporary history that is fixed in the past but attached to the present.

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Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Oil painting by Shane Cotton

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngāpuhi - Ngāpuhi today', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 August 2022)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017