Erena Koopu – Te Ara i Whiti Artist 2022

Erena Koopu

Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Awa

“I was born with green eyes and blonde hair, and I never thought my appearance really matched the language that I spoke or the way I felt. I’m a product of Reo Māori movements and became part of the revival of a language and the strengthening of a culture from a young age. Genetically rich from my Māori and Pākehā whakapapa, I had no choice that someday I would be a creative. I love to make a mess with paint and I am equally passionate about Māori performing arts, these are my preferred mediums – however I strive on fear and excitement and truly believe this is where magic lives, so anything is possible. I have grown and now truly believe and feel that my appearance is the perfect match to my voice and the visual languages I speak.”

Te Ara i Whiti

Erena is one of our six exhibiting artists for Te Ara i Whiti 2022. Her work – “Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea” – is composed of nine lightboxes inspired by “enlightening kōrero tuku iho about Matariki from Māori Astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua”.

Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea made its debut at the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival in 2020 as a painting show. This is a body of work created by painter Erena Koopu in response to the singer-songwriter Maisey Rika’s album also titled Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea. Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea, both the paintings and the album, celebrate the ancient stories and kaupapa of Matariki and each of its stars.

Inspired by the enlightening kōrero tuku iho about Matariki from Māori Astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua, the works have been lovingly created for our tamariki as a waiata and visual resource adding to the Kete of Mātauranga Māori for our future generations. In this collaboration Erena has created a piece of work inspired by each song on Maisey’s latest album. The album has 9 songs therefore there are 9 works. This year Nga Mata o te Ariki Tawhirimatea makes a reappearance as lightboxes.

You can check out Ngā Mata o te Ariki Tāwhirimātea at Te Ara i Whiti from July 9 – 17 at Kelvin and Marina Park.