Te Whiti o Tu

This artwork is influenced by a story about two sisters, Rehutai (mist of the breaking surf) and Tangimoana (the voice of the breaking surf) who lived near the Ruamahanga River in the Wairarapa region. Little is known about their lives, but one story has survived which tells of a warrior named Rautoroa (plume of the albatross) who had travelled to their homeland bearing gifts in the hope of seeking marriage with one of the sisters. The women fell in-love with the warrior and soon jealousy and tensions grew.

The previous evening, Rautoroa had asked the women if they could fetch him some water before he woke the next morning. Tangimoana awoke early and immediately headed out toward the natural spring long before Rehutai. Having filled her ipu (container) first she proceeced to muddy the waters, returning quickly to the warrior. By the time Rehutai came to the spring, the water was undrinkable. Rehutai realised what her sister had done.

When Rehutai returned with her empty ipu, she discovered Tangimoana wearing Rautoroa's cloak which signified they were now married. Heartbroken, Rehutai wept with sadness. In her grief, she decided to climb a hill the very next morning - This hill is known as Ohine-mokemoke (The place of the lonely girl). She was never seen again.

Acknowledgement - Mita Carter