National | Art

Te Tai Tokerau win big at national art exhibition

“Out of the seven categories, five of our students were awarded some of those top awards.”

Whangārei Girls High School has received accolades for its whakairo class, winning awards at a national art exhibition.

Whangārei Girls Highschool, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa, and Tikipunga High, three schools from Northland, showcased their artworks at Ringa Toi, hosted at Te Papa Tongarewa. The exhibition featured over 150 pieces from schools across New Zealand.

The Ringa Toi Exhibition showcases outstanding artwork by secondary school students pursuing NCEA qualifications in visual art levels one to three.

Students are judged in seven categories, with outstanding works given the highly commended mark. Northland students took out 5 of the 7 categories this year.

Whangārei Girls’ Stella Harding won the top award in the Toi Whakairo category for her pūtātara named Tūkaiaia.

“The name of my piece is Tūkaiaia and he is named after one of the kaitiaki of our people, Ngāti Wai.. My father actually named him, because I wasn’t quite sure what I would name him. That was my father as soon as I asked him; he just said straight away, ‘Tūkaiaia’.

Representing Te Taiktokerau

In the Toi Matarau category, which is art based on shaping and fashioning, Ocean-Lee Tito-Heremaia won for her work Pitomata Whatukura, which is based upon the development of a child in the womb.

“The rei are what the baby is for the first six weeks of pregnancy. After the first six weeks, they move out of the rei phase and they either become a man or a female.”

Whangārei Girls High kaiako Janine Tito was proud of the accolades the kids achieved.

“Out of the seven categories, five of our students were awarded some of those top awards.”

“Often we are in competition with each other, kapa haka or Ngā Manu Kōrero, but this time we went down, students came together, and we represented Te Taitokerau.”