HUMANS OF KAITAIA Making her mark with art
I’ve always loved art. At primary school they had a one-day programme for kids who had an interest and gift in art. But as I got older, I kind of went away from it and into sports. Then when I went to college I was failing everything else, but excelling in art.
One day when I was at my cousin’s, she had her tattoo needle and asked if I wanted to have a tutu¯ . So I was kind of self-taught, watching people, and I learned along the way. I found my love for Ma¯ ori art and ta¯ moko.
Then in Year 12 Mum helped me get an interview with Toihoukura, the School of Ma¯ ori Visual Art & Design in Gisborne, and I’ve never looked back. They liked my portfolio and accepted me early. My dad didn’t really see a future for me as an artist, but Mum always encouraged me to do what I love, even though she was a little bit worried about where art was going to take me. But I think I’ve proved them wrong.
When I started there weren’t many female ta¯ moko artists, so it was quite hard to get into. But I got a break working with O¯ tautahi Tattoo in Christchurch for a bit, and that helped me realise my true path.
Art is my getaway, my escape. Art and sport are my things (better than antidepressants). They help keep me sane. I want to be an inspiration to my kids, and show them you don’t need to have all the qualifications to make your mark on the world. I’m proud I can provide for them doing this. I hope one day they will look up to me to see I work at what I love to do.
Every piece is different, no piece is ever the same. Just seeing people’s faces when I am finished is rewarding. It’s not really work when you love it.
Te Ruawai Tua