Kazu Nakagawa & Helen Bowater

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.


Kazu Nakagawa

born Japan
Lives and works on Waiheke Island

Kazu Nakagawa studied and apprenticed in Toyko. His art practice is informed by his fundamental philosophical positions. The materiality, or seeming immateriality, is determined by the conceptual underpinning of each work. Nakagawa works in a range of media as well as evanescent materials, shade, and sound. His work is in private collections nationally and internationally.

Represented by Trish Clark Gallery, Auckland

Helen Bowater

Helen Bowater is a composer with a Bachelor Music (Hons) in music history and ethnomusicology from Victoria University, Wellington. She subsequently studied composition with Jack Body and electroacoustic music with Ross Harris. Her works have been performed widely around the world.


Ku Nakagawa

Ku Nakagawa is a filmmaker who studied Pure Mathematics at The Univeristy of Auckland before pursuing film-making abroad, where he has won international awards.