Te Rongo Kirkwood, Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua, 2022
Basalt, kiln-formed glass. 2200 x 1700 x 150mm.
Looking across the gulf toward Rangitoto, this sculpture tells the story of a standoff that took place between commanders of the Tainui and Arawa canoe as they sought to lay claim to the island for their iwi. Both Hoturua of Tainui and Tamatekapua of Arawa avowed to have been the first to erect a tuahu (sacred altar) on the volcanic island and went to contest over their dispute. Hoturua struck down Tamatekapua, drawing blood and asserting Tainui’s rangitiratanga over the island, which from then became known as ‘Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua’ or the day Tamatekapua shed blood.
As a descendent of Tainui, this story was passed down to artist Te Rongo Kirkwood, who reimagines Hoturua’s tuahu in a dark volcanic basalt rock that forms Rangitoto. Kirkwood has incised a crucifix into the stone with a bowl-like insert made of red glass in reference to this ancient narrative, acknowledging the mana of her ancestor and the powerful elements of Rangitoto.