HU­MANS OF KAITAIA Mak­ing her mark with art

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Te Ruawai Tua

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

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