Unframed Limited Edition Print. Edition of 30.
Motivated by Sofia's reverence for the land and history of Oceania, this painting explores the spirit of the renowned legend of Kupe. This fabled Polynesian navigator is said to have journeyed from Hawaiiki, the mythical ancestral homeland of the Maori, to discover Aotearoa (New Zealand).
“Matawhaorua” is the name of the great ocean-going waka (canoe) that brought Kupe to these shores. The intricately carved taurapa (stern post) and puhi (the adorning feather streamers) depicted in this work were created from the artist’s personal vision of the Matawhaorua.
Before the great voyage began, Kupe who was already married, also desired his cousin’s wife intensely. When out fishing one day, Kupe ordered his cousin Hoturapa to dive down and free the tangled fishing line. Kupe then cut the anchor rope from the waka and rowed furiously back to shore, leaving his cousin to drown. By killing Hoturapa, Kupe had planned to take his wife. However the circumstances surrounding his death at sea caused Hoturapa’s family to be suspicious of Kupe.
To escape vengeance, Kupe and his family left Hawaiiki and embarked on the infamous journey to Aotearoa. Kupe’s wife Hine Te Aparangi was the first to sight the shores of New Zealand. The land appeared to lie beneath a great cloud. Because of this, they named the islands Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud.
As Kupe and his crew sailed along the coast of the newly discovered land they mistakenly disturbed a giant octopus. A battle ensued between the powerful, enraged sea monster and the unassuming waka but due to Kupe’s ingenuity they managed to defeat their formidable opponent.
In this work the ancient, carved waka rests upon the eerie shores of Aotearoa after its immense voyage. The vessel’s solidity and stillness suggest the overcoming of obstacles, the calm after the storm and the final reaching of a destination.
The flying birds introduce a dynamic energy that refers to the Matawhaorua’s tremendous, perilous voyage. Pouakai Eagles (a now extinct New Zealand species), Albatross and a single Kotuku (White Heron) are seen circling the coastline, welcoming the strange newcomers. Significantly, Maori see the Kotuku as a symbol of everything rare and beautiful and the sighting of one as a good omen.