Mahi Kara – Fun with Flags
flax leaves and nails
dimensions variable, activated 10–19 February 2017
Mahi Kara – Fun with Flags is a participatory artwork which doubles as a visual intervention in the Waiheke landscape and as a ‘pop-up’ interactive flag-making activity on the headland walkway.
Te Kara (the Colours) was the Māori name for the first New Zealand flag, also referred to as Kotahitanga (unity). Kara has become a generalised term for ‘flag’ along with haki (Jack). New Zealand flax (harakeke) is a well-known native plant that grows abundantly on Waiheke Island. Some early settlers referred to it as the ‘flag plant” because of its long green blades. Between 10 and 19 February visitors are invited to etch their own designs on flax and carry their personalised ‘flags’ along the headland and take them home.
Other Collaborators: Ngaire McCarthy and her team of volunteers donating and harvesting flax, Jan Robertson
Born 1942, Rawene
Lives and works in the Hokianga and Auckland
Te Hikutu, Ngapuhi
The Kaihanga Kara (flag-makers) collective comprises Maureen Lander, the Hokianga Pa te Aroha Marae weavers (Molly Waata-Morunga, Mandy Sunlight, Toi te Rito Maihi, Ruth Port, Janie Randerson, Bebe Bourke, Makareta Jahnke, Karma Walsh, Michelle Mayn, Briar Wood, Suzanne Loughlin, Jan Barratt, Wendy Naeptlin) and Piritahi Marae Waiheke waevers Maikara Ropata and members of Waiheke Adult Learning.
Dr Maureen Lander is a multi-media installation artist. Lander has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1986, and taught Maori Material Culture at The University of Auckland between early 1990’s and 2007. Drawing inspiration from woven fibre in museum collections and early illustrations, Lander finds harakeke (New Zealand flax) a potent medium for creative expression in language, art, and weaving. Regularly undertaking residencies in Aotearoa and Australia she often initiates collaborative, socially engaged and interactive events for local communities.
The Kaihanga Kara collective are weavers from Hokianga and Waiheke who come together to strengthen historic ties, share flax-work skills, and link to the Waiheke landscape through the nurture, harvest and use of one of its most culturally significant indigenous plants.