Te Rongo Kirkwood

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.

TE RONGO KIRKWOOD (Te Wai o Hua, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Te Kawerau A Maki)

Te Rongo Kirkwood is a mixed-media artist who specialises in kiln formed, cold-worked glass. Her work explores stories and concepts influenced by her Maori, English, and Scottish heritage, navigating celestial and metaphysical themes. Her sculptural pieces draw inspiration from the natural world and seek to enshrine the innate beauty of her materials.

Kirkwood has exhibited in galleries and exhibitions around the world, including Vancouver, San Francisco, and Canberra and in multiple exhibitions in her home country of New Zealand. Her work ‘Eunoia’ (2020) was recently included in Toi Tu Toi Ora at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the most extensive retrospective of contemporary Māori art in Aotearoa’s history.

Represented by Milford Galleries Dunedin milfordgalleries.co.nz