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Guide Kaiārahi

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
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8 July 2021 – 2026

The effervescent brilliance of Te Whānau o Mārama (the Family of Light) maps a pathway for celestial navigation across glistening waters, to the sparking sands of our coastlines – these are the natural world’s glittering inspirations I navigate my art practice from, acknowledging those intrinsic values of light and celebration through a range of media, cultural readings, and whakapapa.

—Reuben Paterson, 2019 [i]

 

One hundred and thirty-five years ago, the ghostly apparition of a waka taua, war canoe,was sighted across Lake Tarawera. This waka wairua, spirit waka, was observed by a local kaiārahi, guide, Te Paea Hinerangi, commonly known as ‘Guide Sophia’, as she led a whaleboat of tourists on an excursion to visit the world-famous Pink and White Terraces. That same day, the water level in the lake is said to have dramatically risen and fallen.

 

Local high priest Tūhoto Ariki of Tūhourangi reportedly interpreted the waka wairua’s manifestation as portentous, a warning of danger to come.[ii] His concern was well-founded: eleven days later, on 10 June 1886, Mount Tarawera violently erupted, completely destroying the Terraces and three nearby villages.Around one hundred and fifty people perished in the disaster while others survived by finding temporary shelter in Guide Sophia’s whare and other local buildings. Displaced from their rohe, hapū resettled in other Te Arawa areas including Whakarewarewa, Ngāpuna, Waitangi, Matatā and Coromandel.[iii]

 

One hundred and thirty-five years later, another ghostly apparition has appeared: a ten-metre waka pitau, made of metal, acrylic and glass, levitates above Auckland Art Gallery’s forecourt pool. This contemporary sculpture by artist Reuben Paterson, commissioned by the Gallery and generously supported by the P.A. Edmiston Trust, invites Gallery visitors on a speculative journey through time and space to consider worlds beyond our own. Paterson, who has Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangitihi, Tūhourangi and Scottish ancestry, has grown up with stories of the phantom waka and he has long been fascinated by the mysterious circumstances around its appearance.

 

Paterson has named his sculpture Guide Kaiārahi and intends it to operate as ‘a guide, a leader and an escort’.[iv]‘ We are being guided into unknown and unmapped territories,’ he says, ‘that are often the hidden cultural knowing I have come to appreciate as they rise to the surface as truths, and these ideas have been the inspirations behind this work, and the logic systems used to define and determine the answers to esoteric phenomena.’[v]

 

Paterson’s work is pivoted onto a virtual axis and the Gallery’s glass stairwell transforms into the waka’s breakwater. As we ascend the stairs, we follow its journey, skyward, heaven-bound. I like to imagine we are onboard a ‘star waka’ – as Robert Sullivan writes in his poem ‘Waka 46’:

 

a space waka

rocketing to another orb

singing waiata to the spheres [vi]

 

Above Exerts from Farrar, S. ‘Singing Waiata to the Spheres’: Reuben Paterson’s Dazzling Crystal Waka Sculpture. Art Toi Auckland Art Gallery, Number 4, July 2021, Pages 6-15.

 

Full Issue and article available from The Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki.

For further research material please contact library@aucklandartgallery.com

 


[i] Reuben Paterson, unpublished concept proposal for Auckland Art Gallery’s forecourt reflection pool, 2019.

[ii] ‘1886:The Tarawera Eruption’, Ngati Rangitihi website, https://ngatirangitihi.iwi.nz/about-us/history,accessed 23 May 2021.

[iii]‘1886: The Tarawera Eruption’, ibid.

[iv] Reuben Paterson, unpublished artist statement, 2020.

[v] Paterson, unpublished artist statement, 2020.

[vi] Robert Sullivan, ‘Waka 46’, StarWaka, Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1999, p 50.

Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George

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Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Hamish Melville
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo Jos Wheeler
Reuben Paterson, Guide Kaiārahi, Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George
Installation view Auckland Art Gallery. Photo David St George

The effervescent brilliance of Te Whānau o Mārama (the Family of Light) maps a pathway for celestial navigation across glistening waters, to the sparking sands of our coastlines – these are the natural world’s glittering inspirations I navigate my art practice from, acknowledging those intrinsic values of light and celebration through a range of media, cultural readings, and whakapapa.

—Reuben Paterson, 2019 [i]

 

One hundred and thirty-five years ago, the ghostly apparition of a waka taua, war canoe,was sighted across Lake Tarawera. This waka wairua, spirit waka, was observed by a local kaiārahi, guide, Te Paea Hinerangi, commonly known as ‘Guide Sophia’, as she led a whaleboat of tourists on an excursion to visit the world-famous Pink and White Terraces. That same day, the water level in the lake is said to have dramatically risen and fallen.

 

Local high priest Tūhoto Ariki of Tūhourangi reportedly interpreted the waka wairua’s manifestation as portentous, a warning of danger to come.[ii] His concern was well-founded: eleven days later, on 10 June 1886, Mount Tarawera violently erupted, completely destroying the Terraces and three nearby villages.Around one hundred and fifty people perished in the disaster while others survived by finding temporary shelter in Guide Sophia’s whare and other local buildings. Displaced from their rohe, hapū resettled in other Te Arawa areas including Whakarewarewa, Ngāpuna, Waitangi, Matatā and Coromandel.[iii]

 

One hundred and thirty-five years later, another ghostly apparition has appeared: a ten-metre waka pitau, made of metal, acrylic and glass, levitates above Auckland Art Gallery’s forecourt pool. This contemporary sculpture by artist Reuben Paterson, commissioned by the Gallery and generously supported by the P.A. Edmiston Trust, invites Gallery visitors on a speculative journey through time and space to consider worlds beyond our own. Paterson, who has Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangitihi, Tūhourangi and Scottish ancestry, has grown up with stories of the phantom waka and he has long been fascinated by the mysterious circumstances around its appearance.

 

Paterson has named his sculpture Guide Kaiārahi and intends it to operate as ‘a guide, a leader and an escort’.[iv]‘ We are being guided into unknown and unmapped territories,’ he says, ‘that are often the hidden cultural knowing I have come to appreciate as they rise to the surface as truths, and these ideas have been the inspirations behind this work, and the logic systems used to define and determine the answers to esoteric phenomena.’[v]

 

Paterson’s work is pivoted onto a virtual axis and the Gallery’s glass stairwell transforms into the waka’s breakwater. As we ascend the stairs, we follow its journey, skyward, heaven-bound. I like to imagine we are onboard a ‘star waka’ – as Robert Sullivan writes in his poem ‘Waka 46’:

 

a space waka

rocketing to another orb

singing waiata to the spheres [vi]

 

Above Exerts from Farrar, S. ‘Singing Waiata to the Spheres’: Reuben Paterson’s Dazzling Crystal Waka Sculpture. Art Toi Auckland Art Gallery, Number 4, July 2021, Pages 6-15.

 

Full Issue and article available from The Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki.

For further research material please contact library@aucklandartgallery.com

 


[i] Reuben Paterson, unpublished concept proposal for Auckland Art Gallery’s forecourt reflection pool, 2019.

[ii] ‘1886:The Tarawera Eruption’, Ngati Rangitihi website, https://ngatirangitihi.iwi.nz/about-us/history,accessed 23 May 2021.

[iii]‘1886: The Tarawera Eruption’, ibid.

[iv] Reuben Paterson, unpublished artist statement, 2020.

[v] Paterson, unpublished artist statement, 2020.

[vi] Robert Sullivan, ‘Waka 46’, StarWaka, Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1999, p 50.

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