Ariki Brightwell was commissioned to paint Te Aniwaniwa Nui (The Great Rainbow) mural by MTG Hawke’s Bay.
Ariki Brightwell was commissioned to paint Te Aniwaniwa Nui (The Great Rainbow) mural by MTG Hawke’s Bay to commemorate Te Huinga Takatāpui o Aotearoa, the national hui of rainbow whānau that has been held regularly since 1987 and hosted in Hawke’s Bay for the first time in November 2018. The mural, along with the exhibition FAFSWAG: code switch, which featured artworks of three members of the South Auckland based FAFSWAG Arts Collective, marked MTG Hawke’s Bay’s first engagement with prominent themes of gender and sexuality diversity.
Ariki Brightwell’s mural Te Aniwaniwa Nui acknowledges our ancestors and tells the story of the rainbow, its origins and significance to Maori, as well as its importance as a symbol of peace and diversity. It also depicts the paramount chief Kahungunu, who Ngati Kahungunu, the people of Heretaunga ki Wairarapa inhabit, to acknowledge our history and the tribe who hosted the Takatapui hui in 2018.
The mural is a depiction of the great figures of Ngati Kahungunu:
Kahukura Nui (left) is the great ancestor of the east coast known as the guardian of the rainbow who learned net making from Patupaiarehe. He fell in love with the mist goddess Hinerangi (bottom left), as they merged he became the rainbow.
Uenuku (centre) is the god of rainbows and special to the people of Tauinui Waka. Uenuku and Kahukura share the same story.
Kahungunu Nui (right) is the great ancestor and chief Ngati Kahungunu. He was a powerful chief who ruled much of the territory of the east Coast spanning from Te Wairarapa to Hawke’s Bay. He was also a great fisherman and known as the bringer of food to his people.
The painting was created at MTG Hawkes Bay in the main foyer and on display for three months. While the mural was painted, members of the public could watch the artist at work and also discuss the work with her. This proved to be a very popular and engaging aspect of the project. The mural welcomed the LQBTQI community to MTG Hawke’s Bay and had enormously positive feedback from our visitors.
Colour was essential to telling the stories within the mural. The primary colours red, black, white using Resene Havoc, Resene Black and Resene White, are seen as the colours that represent Maori today with its most popular form the Tino Rangatira flag. However, these colours have been a part of Maori culture spanning back to Maori ancestors, red is the female element the blood and the land, white is the element of man the light and the sky father, black Te Kore, the nothing in which all life began. The secondary colours are the colours of the rainbow, to bring out the main feature of the painting and its presence of the god of peace Rongomatane and the god of Rainbows Uenuku, painted using Resene Scrumptious, Resene Outrageous, Resene Bright Spark, Resene Wham, Resene Endeavour and Resene Seance.
At the end of the display period, the mural was relocated to Te Kura Kaupapa o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga (The Maori language School of the Ngati Kahungunu Tribe) where it is on permanent display in the school’s library, sharing its story to future generations to come.
The painting is approximately 2.5 meters by 7, and was hand painted and completed in seven days. Ariki’s father, Matahi Brightwell assisted in its creation. Matahi Brightwell is a highly reknown artist in the Maori and Pacific world who has built large works of art such as war canoes and the last traditional sailing canoe Hawaikinui, which was hand carved and sailed from Tahiti to NZ in 1985.
The mural is painted on five separate panels. The panels were designed to be able to be disassembled at MTG Hawke’s Bay, then reinstalled at Te Kura Kaupapa o Ngati Kahungunu in Bridge Pa, Hastings. They seamlessly went back together without any damage to the artwork and had to be installed differently at Bridge Pa to suit the space available.
MTG Hawke’s Bay specify Resene paints for gallery spaces due to the flexibility offered by the extensive range and low VOC products which is critical when painting in enclosed spaces and around sensitive artworks.
Architectural specifier: James Price
Artist: Ariki Brightwell
Building contractor: MTG Exhibitions & Facilities Team
Curator: Jess Mio, MTG Exhibitions & Facilities Team
Other key contributor – assisted with painting: Matahi Brightwell
Photographer: Kirsten Simcox, David Frost, MTG Exhibitions & Facilities Team
Video production: Indelible Limited
View a time-lapse video of the installation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_PH3K7EjHE
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