Piri Cowie Mauri Moana 2018. Image courtesy of the artist and SCAPE Public Art.

Mauri Moana

Mauri Moana by Piri Cowie for SCAPE Public Art Season 2018

Ōtautahi-based artist Piri Cowie undertook an ambitious, interwoven project with multiple strands Mauri Moana, ko Au Te Moana ko Te Moana ko Au / I am the Ocean and the Ocean is Me. These included a contemporary Māori cultural fashion experience, where garments and taonga designed and made by Cowie were shown within an event incorporating live performance, waiata, and sharing of kai; photographic portraits, and expression of Ngāi Tahu and Māori cultural identity sited as billboards around the edge of North Hagley Park; and collaborative community wānanga. Cowie made the work to “…speak of our place within Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean, honouring the life forms within our oceans. The kaupapa of Mauri Moana has arisen out of my concern for the decline of our oceans. Māori belief systems show how we are intrinsically connected with our environment. As expressed in the whakatauki, ‘Ko Au Te Moana, ko Te Moana ko Au”. I am the ocean and the ocean is me. When we uplift the Mauri of the Moana it positively affects the life within our oceans and naturally uplifts the Mauri of our people. Reflecting a cycle of Kaitiakitanga/Guardianship. Our Ngāi Tahu and Māori culture has always been here, but it has not always been visible or looked at.’