Artists to feature at Naenae community centre 

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Published: 28 February 2024

Traditional Māori art and modern manufacturing technology is set to provide the perfect cultural backdrop at the new Naenae Community Centre.

Renowned artists Kereama Taepa and Tiaki Dahm have been commissioned to produce works for the new facility, which opens in May in the heritage-listed former Post Office.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry said the artworks will be wonderful additions to the centre.

“These highly acclaimed artists have put a lot of time into creating works that connect to our whenua and the purpose of the centre in building our community. These artworks will help build pride in our fantastic new facilities created for our community.

“We have a range of projects happening across the city and we want to ensure that public art is included wherever possible, so our city continues to be vibrant and culturally rich.”

Kereama Taepa (Te Ātiawa and Te Arawa) has created a series of artworks that uses tūrapa (tukutuku) traditions of cross-stitched lattice work to communicate the concept of interaction.

While tūrapa are traditionally made from materials such as tōtara, kiekie and pīngao, this artwork uses modern technology and materials, being laser cut from aluminium and powder coated for longevity.

“The design draws on customary knowledge - the motif is called waharua,” according to Taepa. “The waharua motif literally translates as "two mouths" or "two openings".

“Customarily it has various meanings associated with it, though in this modern context I'm considering the purpose of the community centre itself - a place where the exchanging and sharing of whakaaro and kōrero between people happens.”

Taepa holds a Masters’ degree in Māori Visual Arts and was a Supreme Award winner of the Rotorua Art Awards 2017, the Molly Morpeth 2D Art Award in 2008 and the Runner-Up at the National Art Awards 2018.

He explores digital culture and its impact on Māori culture - and how Māori can use technology to serve the generations of the future. His work uses technologies such as projection, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality to tell narratives of the past and the present.

In 2023 his work became the first digital artwork acquired by the Parliamentary Collection. Other works include ‘Tohorā’ on the Kāpiti Coast, unveiled in 2020, 'Pōhutukawa’ on the Tauranga Waterfront (2018), the ‘a (very) brief history of Aotearoa’ sculptures for the Four Plinths Sculpture Project in Wellington (2016) and a public sculpture titled ‘tichi’ in New Plymouth (2015).

Locally based artist Tiaki Dahm (Te Ati Awa) has created two Toi Whakairo (carved timber pieces) for people to remember past stories about the local area. The oak used came from a tree felled on the Naenae pool site.

The design tells the story from mana whenua of two tupua or taniwha that lived in Naenae.  Though children were warned to stay away from the lake due to what may lurk deep below, one time a child accidently fell in. Aroused from their slumber the tupua raced towards the scared and helpless child.

The child was snatched to safety, and when they missed the opportunity to fulfil their hunger the tupua savagely inflicted so much pain on each other they created raging swirls, smashing the banks of the lake and causing Te Kahui Maunga to take flight and form high peaks.

A render of the new community centre, feature Kereama Taepa's tukutuku panels.

An illustration of Tiaki Dahm's carving for the Naenae Community Centre.

An illustration of Tiaki Dahm's carving for the Naenae Community Centre.