Maungarongo ‘Ron’ Te Kawa (Ngāti Porou) has made unique, exuberantly styled quilts since the early 1990s. Using bold colour and a tactile application of materials, his practice explores mātauranga Māori, his whakapapa and atua wāhine (goddesses) with a vigour and energy that is palpably infectious. He says;
“My quilts are an invitation to celebrate the fun, colour and magic of te ao Māori and all those things that fill my heart and heal my mind and spirit. Dance, connection to wairua and nature, whānau, whenua, stories, survival, resilience.”
Te Kawa’s Heavenly Bodies series consists of nine quilts. Each represents one of the nine stars of the Matariki star cluster, which are often personified as a mother, Matariki, and her eight children: Pōhutukawa, Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waitī, Waitā, Waipunarangi, Ururangi, and Hiwa-i-te-rangi. First presented in 2022 at Season gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau, they have been reunited by Tauranga Art Gallery especially for Matariki. A time to reflect on the past year, celebrate the present, and plan for the year ahead, Te Kawa’s work encourages us to do so with warmth, playfulness and generosity.
You will notice that the quilt featuring the youngest star, Hiwa-i-te-rangi, is missing. Cut off in an area affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, she was unable to be reunited with her whanau for this exhibition.