Erena Koopu, Programme Co-ordinator and Senior Lecturer, completed her Masters of Māori Visual Arts (First Class Honours) at the end of in 2016 from Massey University. She has been lecturing at Toihoukura for 5 years and co-ordinates Te Toi o Ngā Rangi: Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts programme. Erena has travelled abroad extensively promoting Maori culture through both visual and Māori performing arts.
In this public lecture, Erena shares her journey towards her Master’s degree. Conceptualised at the 50th anniversary of Poukai at Kōkōhinau Marae in the township of Te Teko, Erena knew this event would be the foundation for her research. Poukai is an annual hui that has existed since the NZ Wars ended. Initiated by the Kiingitanga to support the iwi and hapū of the Waikato region, Eruera Manuera of Ngāti Awa – and Erena’s grandfather – would successfully commission that Poukai be held at Kōkōhinau some years later and permission was granted by Kiingi Korokī.
With a focus on qualities and characteristics of Rangatira, and using Eruera Manuera as the exemplar of these key abilities, Erena produced a body of artworks to support her thesis entitled Hei Kai. The first series was exhibited at the Poukai in Kōkōhinau, and the final 2nd series of works at Toihoukura. These have become the basis of conversation about leadership and rangatiratanga for whānau, hapū, iwi and the Māori art community.