News: Trust leaves an artistic legacy in Martinborough

26 April 2022

Work is afoot to put a glorious new sculpture in Martinborough’s Waihinga Centre.

The Waihinga Charitable Trust has commissioned local artists Sam Hamuera Ludden and Violet Edwards to create a piece of art, using surplus funds from the fundraising effort for the Waihinga Centre.

Sam’s artistry caught the Trust’s eye after exhibiting at Aratoi. His work often features a river of eels, which chairman of the former trust, Max Stevens, felt would make a nice connection with the past.

“We were keen to link to the name Waihinga, which was a traditional Māori village on the south side of Martinborough. That’s where the Waihinga name came from.”

Sam will create a similar but new piece of work, which will be complemented by a huge “hinaki” or eel net by accomplished local weaver Violet Edwards.

He has exhibited in many places including China, “but I’m pretty excited to be doing something for my homeland”.

To guide his work, Sam is talking with local Māori hapū and whānau, and the Kohunui marae.

The sculptor is only one part of the process, he says.

“The piece will belong to the people. I’m just the guy who makes it … I won’t be around for as long as the piece, so I hope everyone adopts it as their own.”

The Waihinga village was located on the banks of the Ruamahanga. Eels were a major life-sustaining food source, and the spiral in Sam’s works represent a circular perspective of life and time.

This piece will particularly reference the past, “the connection of mana whenua to local resources before and during the colonial period and the waterways’’.

Hung high on a wall, the work will be a substantial size and will take the viewer’s eye towards the hanging hinaki net.

Sam says the net is really important, as it will be made with traditional methods, “giving someone of our generation an opportunity to practice the work of our tīpuna” (ancestors).

It is uncertain when the work will be completed but Sam says he would love to have it completed in time for Matariki, the new national holiday named after the Māori New Year when the Matariki constellation appears. This year it falls on June 24.

After the Waihinga Trust was wound up last year, residual proceeds from the fundraising efforts were vested with the South Wairarapa District Council, but the Trust still controls where the funds should go. Some of the funds have also been put towards the Waihinga playground outside the venue.

Narida Hooper, chair of the Council’s Māori Standing Committee, said its members were “delighted” to see the sculpture taking shape.

“This is a good example of an engagement framework,” she noted. Weaver Violet Edwards is also a member of the Committee and a representative of Kohunui Marae.

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