Martinborough community welcomes new artwork

A very special artwork has been unveiled at the Waihinga Centre in Martinborough this morning (7 December 2022).

The three-dimensional piece by Masterton sculptor Sam Ludden and weaver Violet Edwards-Hina was officially gifted to the centre by the Waihinga Charitable Trust. 

The work was blessed this morning with a karakia and mihi by kaumātua Matua Abe Matenga. Sitting high across from the i-Site, the piece depicts eels flowing out of a hinaki (traditional eel net). 

Sculptor Sam Ludden, who is well known for his environmental focus, said it had been a privilege to co-create the work with Edwards-Hina and others.

“There are many layers of meaning to this piece that run deep and which connect us to the past and the future,” Ludden said.

“Much like the Ruamāhanga that flows through the Wairarapa, so do the tuna flowing through our whakapapa. This piece is about the deep connection of mana whenua to the waters that flow through this land and how it has shaped us.”

Ludden said the piece very much reflected mahinga kai (protecting life-sustaining resources), a core value system in te ao Māori which dictated when to harvest and when to cultivate. 

“At the heart of this work is te Mana o te Wai and the mauri (essence) that lays within this whenua and runs through our awa (waterway),” Ludden said.

“My hope for this piece is that it will inspire rangatahi (young people) to learn more about the Wairarapa, our history and the whakapapa (geneology) of the land. 

“I hope it will remind the people in positions of power and influence that the water holds mauri that must be maintained for life to thrive.” 

Explaining her work, kairaranga (weaver) Violet Edwards-Hina, who is mana whenua, said introduced species and humans had greatly reduced the three species of eels that used to thrive in the South Wairarapa

Work had begun to reverse the damage and it was her hope that “within my grandson’s lifetime that the change could be noticeable, so he will see what my eyes saw in my awa (river). My memories will be his to live.”

The hinaki was given the name Te Heke Rangatira o nga kaitiaki a Marareira Aporo.

Although the artwork is in the Council’s care now, it is for all to enjoy. The piece was commissioned by the Waihinga Charitable Trust, which raised money for the Centre’s construction several years ago and has since wound up.

Former trust chairman Max Stevens said the aim had been to create a unifying work.

“For the trustees, it’s about connecting the name Waihinga and the people with the original small Māori settlement about 2km south of our town, on the banks of the Ruamāhanga.  

“It’s about connecting the place, the hapū, mana whenua, the history, and all the people past, present and future, for everyone to acknowledge and celebrate.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Martin Connelly told those assembled how he remembered streams being full of eels when he was younger.

The health of the district’s waterways had been easily lost and it would much more difficult to get them back to that earlier state. Therein lay the challenge, he said.

Toitū te marae o Tāne, Toitū te marae o Tangaroa, Toitū te Tangata

If the domain of Tāne survives to give sustenance, And the domain of Tangaroa likewise remains, So too will the people.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support