Carving Water Painting Voice, 2016-2017
timber, flax, steel, fibre-glass reinforced plastic, oil stain and sonic composition
7,000 x 3,000 x 1,000 mm (variable)
Sound composed by Helen Bowater
Toa Moana — a canoe made from material salvaged in Niue after Cyclone Heta (2004) — was built by Niue’s last waka master carver, Tamafai Fihiniu, as a gift of gratitude in response to New Zealand’s substantial relief effort. The canoe fared badly in transit to Waiheke and deteriorated further over time. The canoe’s custodians, the Waiheke Waka Ama club, offered the vessel to Kazu Nakagawa in 2016.
The boat dovetailed into a conceptual project Nakagawa was developing, a visual and sonic installation about human voyages. Composer Helen Bowater created a sonic component for a canoe and paddle structure by weaving together numerous stories and songs of migrants in their native tongues that she and filmmaker Ku Nakagawa in Asia recorded. The sound forms a sonic ocean, a medium for ongoing voyages. The newly restored canoe, carved paddles and sound forms an ode to the myriad ethnicities who have travelled to Aotearoa.