In the space of a week, the University of Waikato’s Hamilton campus has transformed into a bolder, brighter and more inspiring place to study, visit and work thanks to the Boon: Street Art Festival.
Six concrete canvases in different locations around the 65 hectare campus were taken over by five artists from across Waikato and Bay of Plenty as part of the Boon on Campus event which ran 16 - 20 November.
The artworks draw on the themes of community, connection and knowledge, and collectively used an impressive 442.8 litres of paint.
University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, says it’s been exciting to see the campus come alive over the past week.
“The artworks have well and truly captivated our University community. It was fantastic to see the buzz it created as people stopped by each day to see the progress being made, watching intently at the detail and layering of each piece leading up to the finished product.
“This is just the beginning of a transformation of our campus so that our physical buildings are a more accurate reflection of the great work that goes on inside them every day,” he says.
Boon on Campus is a five year partnership and will return again to the University’s Hamilton campus in twice more before 2025.
The artists and their pieces
TECHS_X and HANA_X
Poihakena Ngāwati: Ngāti Hine, Ngapuhi, Tainui
Hana Maihi: Ngāti Whatua, Tainui, Ngai Te Rangi
Name of piece: Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho
TECHS_X’s concept is inspired by the story of Tane and his ascension to the heavens in hopes to retrieve knowledge for mankind on earth. While Tane descended the heavens, a bird followed him carrying the power of knowledge. The bird, now identified as Kiwa/Frigate, was seeking to nest in Waikato.
After some time on earth, the bird realised it needed to return to the heavens to restore its immortality. Before returning, it selected a few pupils to shine bright and share its ability of knowledge, starting a chain reaction with the selected pupils that was handed down to their generations.
The anchoring quote of his piece: “Whåia te iti Kahurangi Pursue that which is precious, and do not be deterred by anything less than a lofty mountain!” Through his mural, he depicts this quote as knowledge is what we aim to achieve in life.
Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Raukawa
Name of piece: Ngā Wai e Rua
Kelcy’s piece aims to communicate the importance of whakapapa (genealogy) and higher learning by way of the complex and incredibly vast and layered space of te ao Māori. It seeks to engage in ideas of space outside the limitations of the human sensory system and what we think we know about our world. It embodies the freedom of creative play with visual elements that acknowledge customary art forms. It explores the structural elements that constitute tukutuku - the woven panels located within the interior architecture of the wharenui. Tukutuku is a cultural container, with cyphers holding within its composition sacred mātauranga Māori and whakapapa. Tukutuku refers to ‘Te Ira Atua’ (the realm of deity), a strong link to notions of possibilities and creative potential.
The artwork seeks to acknowledge the relationship between the tauira (student), kaiako (tutors) and the wānanga (institution). There is a whakapapa established through nurturing of the mind of the student by the tutors, and this whakapapa binds the student, tutors and institution. All must work diligently to uphold the commitment and agreement.
Name of piece: Ka mua ka muri
Pauly B’s mural reflective of the 50+ year history of the University of Waikato, as well as the much longer history of the land on which the University stands on. In creating his design, he considered the following whakatauki heavily:
Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on the past’.
His design responds to the Māori view of past, present and future and how they are intertwined. The portrait shows the shifting of one moment into another, with a person in the present and in the most recent past.
The figure looks forward, into history, into the forest of Karipūkau when giant kahikatea and tawa trees stood on the whenua and kererū abounded. Behind the face the future is abstract and undefined, still to be discovered. The mural emphasises human potential and the power that a person can draw from the awareness of and connection to the past.
Te Marunui Hotene
Tuhoe, Ngati Pukeko
Name of piece: Poutama
Te Marunui’s mural, Poutama, showcases the story of the ancestor Tawhaki who ascended to the thirteen heavens on his pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of mankind. This painting is an expression of Te Marunui’s own pursuit of knowledge for healing, as he transitions from ‘blackness towards taha Māori’.
It also reflects the University space as a place of learning where colour represents knowledge. This painting incorporates loose illustrative modernised Māori taniwha, creating a connected multi-coloured body. It explores notions of connection, re-connection and disconnection, in a culturally diverse urban culture.
Ngai te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui
Ngāti Hangarau, Tūhourangi
Name of piece: Te Papahou
Regan depicts a woman who represents a student attending the University. The vessel of knowledge that is being held - a wakahuia - (this wakahuia image is modeled on a wakahuia in the Taonga Puoro collection held at the School of Music) is a receptacle of knowledge that has been gathered from the work of so many before us. This knowledge is available to the learner to form a strong foundation, then through exploring further, adding to and striving forward, the potential and power of this knowledge unlimited.
The hair from the woman is blown back from the energy emanating from the wakahuia (treasure box). The design behind the woman was inspired by the artwork at the Tauranga campus created by Whare Thomson which connects the Kirikiriroa/Hamilton campus to the Tauranga campus. The pou, or large designed posts, connect humanity reaching up towards universal knowledge and aspiring for excellence.
The design makes reference to the tall trees of the forest that once stood on the land that the University of Waikato now occupies. This also pays tribute to the other tall trees from 'Te Wao nui a Tāne' or, The great world of knowledge and enlightenment, who have gone before and the ones who are growing for the future.
The manawa line or the 'heart line' of the design represents the Waikato River, celebrating the well-known Tainui saying: 'He piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha, Waikato taniwha rau...'. The mighty Waikato River, where at every bend there is a Taniwha, at every bend there is a chief, and further extending that to mean- at every bend there is knowledge, enlightenment and understanding.