An opening celebration will be held in Matatā this Tuesday, January 22 at 6pm to officially launch a new mural celebrating mana wāhine and the kuia of the area.
The mural’s creation has come through a collaboration between Whakatāne Ki Mua, Matatā Blue Light and the Matatā community, with funding assistance from the Ministry for Women’s Suffrage 125 community funding programme.
Whakatāne Ki Mua strategic coordinator, Rebecca Mackay says the project has received overwhelming support in various forms, from kai deliveries and verbal encouragement to local sponsorship from a range of businesses and organisations.
“The community vision for the Whakatāne Ki Mua project is that our communities are made more vibrant, engaged and connected, and I think public art is generally understood to beautify a place, and add vibrancy,” she says.
“However, in the case of Mana Wāhine Matatā, it’s done more than that – it’s brought people together and now those involved are looking to the future and using this experience as a platform for greater community connectedness.”
The mural was painted by Whakatāne-born artist, Arohanoa Matthews and is the second in the creative story-telling project, following the success of the Clifton Road carpark mural, ‘Whakaahutanga’, painted by Te Haunui Tuna in Whakatāne last year.
The mural painting took place over four days, but prep started well before that with many hui held between the project team, artists, and rangatahi (youth) – and work behind the scenes to bring the iwi and whānau of the wider community into the kaupapa.
Arohanoa says it was important for her to listen to the community first and to learn about their place of standing (turangawaewae) and what mana wāhine means to them, in order to design a mural that they could connect to.
"For me, the concept of mana wāhine has been exemplified through the journey of its creation, as much as what the mural itself depicts,” she says.
“The collaboration of rangatahi wāhine (young women) who have worked alongside me, have really showcased their leadership and work ethic. They have uplifted each other and held one another accountable throughout this journey."
The Matatā community has rallied behind us and has empowered the rangatahi wāhine to stand up and show their worth and talents through this mural. I am so proud of what they have achieved in only four days.”
Matatā community member and project enthusiast, Marsha Playle, says the amount of support has been truly amazing.
“This project has been carried out with huge community input, displaying the strength of our wāhine and whānau - past, present and future,” she says. “Now I have more people to wave and say ‘Kia ora’ to on the street.”
“We’ve had a range of values installed into our kaupapa, recognising the importance of the many cultures and protocols; not only of Te Āo Māori but also a universal outlook,” says Marsha.
Rebecca concludes by reflecting on the whakatauaki (proverb) which guided the kaupapa for the project. “The whakatauaki is Ka Titiro ki muri, ka haere ki mua - We look back to enable us to move forward,” she says.
“We’re grateful to the kuia and kaumatua who guided us with the past and the rangatahi who will take us into the future, and all those who contributed to this project in some way."
The community is invited to join the opening celebration of the mural from 6pm on Tuesday January 22 at the reserve adjacent to the mural on the Matatā Vounteer Fire Station.
Please bring a plate of kai to share. Mural artist Arohanoa Matthews will be present and will also share an artist’s kōrero.
For more information, visit the Whakatāne Ki Mua Facebook page.
A video of the mural can be found at the Whakatane District Council Facebook page.