Painter Kura Te Waru Rewiri and highlights of 2019

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:04 pm on 22 December 2019
Educator and Painter Kura Te Waru Rewiri

Educator and Painter Kura Te Waru Rewiri Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Nau mai te wa o Hine Raumati
Kia noho tata ai te whanau
Kia haumaru ta koutou hararei

Nga mihi mo te waa o te Kirimete me nga mihi o te tau hou

In the final episode of Te Ahi Kaa we meet painter Kura Te Waru Rewiri whose paintings are held in galleries in Aotearoa and overseas.  Rewiri was honoured at this years Te Waka Toi awards in recognition of excellence and outstanding contribution to Māori arts.

Kura was born in Kaeo near Mangaiti marae and was schooled at Paihia, an idyllic childhood one where she picked oysters both to and from school everyday.

During her high school years Kura was taught by prominent artist’s Selwyn Wilson and Buck Nin, it was Nin who enrolled Kura into Ilam without her knowledge.

“I think he recognised something in me like he did with all his students, he was  fair person in terms of how he dealt with us, but he put up his canvases in class and he painted, I saw that he painted with powder and p.v.a glue and we saw the paintings growing” she says.

Kura excelled in Art History and when she left Bay of Islands college, teacher Buck Nin told her to find a job to raise the money for an airfare to Christchurch.  For Rewiri Ilam was a 'culture shock' with only thirteen Māori students, she experienced racism and couldn’t get a student flat,  but formed closed bonds through the campus Māori club and joined Nga Tama Toa with friend Tame Iti who was part of the Trade Training Scheme at the time.

“We had to be pro-active, and [were] politically aware to promote the reo and to demand things, we had good relationships with Matiu Rata, and the Māori MPs at the time.” she says.  In 1973 she graduated from Ilam with a Diploma in Fine Art (Honours) and the following year, completed her study at Christchurch Teachers Training College.

Kura has taught Māori arts at secondary schools and tertiary institutions, her paintings are held in galleries around the country, and at the National Art Gallery in Australia.

Grace Hoet was a close friend of the late actress, Nancy Brunning having met in 1992.

Grace Hoet was a close friend of the late actress, Nancy Brunning having met in 1992. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Director, writer and producer Grace Hoet met Nancy Brunning (1971-2019)  around 1992, since that time they have worked together and became best mates.

“If I was to describe Nan she was full of aroha and manaakitanga, she would always awhi everyone, and there was always a cup of tea or something to eat at Nans and have a kōrero.” she says.

Nancy Brunning was an award winning writer, actor and director, she featured in a number of movies including What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999) The Strength of Water (2009) and Mahana (2016). In light of her passing this year, Grace Hoet talks about Nancy’s stance on bringing Māori stories to light in movies, television and theatre. Nancy Brunning honoured at the recent Te Waka Toi awards in recognition of her positive impact on the development and practise of Māori arts.

In the final show of the year, Te Ahi Kaa features highlights from stories. Chef Charles Royal returns to the ngahere foraging for rongoā Māori. Rereata Makiha is in Rotorua sharing his knowledge on the Maramataka – The Māori Lunar Calendar as taught to him by his elders through Wānanga.  A small whanau in Raetihi are working on restoring their Ratana Temple alongside Auckland Architects, overseen by Te Awhina Arahanga. Dr Diana Kopua oversees Mahi a Atua, a Māori holistic approach to mental wellness through storytelling and narratives, based at Te Kuwatawata clinic in Gisborne, Te Ahi Kaa visits the space to learn more about it. In Hastings Dr Sandy Adsett talks about his early career as an arts advisor and his work alongside students at Tōmairangi the School of Māori Visual Art at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.