Staff from Rotorua Library, the Children's Health Hub and Rotorua Lakes Council joined together with artists Glenys Courtney-Strachan and Maria Marshall this morning for the blessing of a new art work in the Te Ao Tamariki, the Children's Area of the library.
Rotorua Lakes Council's Kaitiaki Ahurea Māori, Monty Morrison, blessed the mural and spoke of the connections to other significant artworks and carvings within Te Aka Mauri.
Ānahera Sadler, Kaiurungi Mātauranga Māori for Rotorua Library can already envisage some great oral storytelling in front of the mural in the future and said that "significant art that depicts local heritage and connection to the manawhenua of Te Arawa is a feast for the eyes and a gift to the heart".
Artists, Glenys Courtney-Strachan and Maria Marshall have been involved in painting Māori narratives in early childcare centres and kindergartens and Glenys says the new, two-panel mural at Rotorua Library Te Aka Mauri is a culmination of all the work they have done. "This artwork belongs to everybody we are very proud and grateful to have it here".
Rotorua Library was honoured to have Glenys and Maria Marshall present at the ceremony to explain the deeper significance of the artwork which incorporates several Te Arawa histories.
Kurangaituku (the bird-like woman) features in the painting, but unlike most other depictions of her, she is in flight and has Te Arawa ancestor, Hatupatu, in her clutches. Ihenga (the great explorer) is shown surrounded by Patupaiarehe (Fairy folk), enveloping him like mist. Te Arawa lovers, Hinemoa and Tutanekai can be seen on Mokoia together. Kuirau Park's namesake, the beautiful Te Kuiarau, is bathing in a pool. Te Kuiarau was taken by a taniwha, and in this mural the taniwha is lobster-like to creatively reflect a local story behind the Lobster Pool at Kuirau Park.
As in the Te Aka Mauri artworks by David Trubridge, Tāne Mahuta and the birds and other forest life are also represented as the central tree with manu (birds) in its embrace. A vibrant sun is also included in reference to Maui.
All of these stories are beautifully and colourfully illustrated, emanating from the pages of an open book, reminding us of the mural's location amongst the Children's Area of the library in Te Aka Mauri, a place full of stories.
The captivating mural is already being enjoyed by so many people and Ānahera is sure it will continue to enthral visitors as it holds a story for all of us.
Visit the mural in the Children's Area on the Ground Floor of Rotorua Library Te Aka Mauri and see how many stories you can find.