Ngā Rangatira  - Noble leaders 

I started this year researching my husbands whakapapa ancestry with the intention of learning more about my sons cultural heritage. 

Imagery and information surrounding my husband's Great,great,great  Grandmother (1846-1921) from the Waikato, inspired me to continue my research,particularly about Maori cosmogony,religion and the NZ Wars (1845-1872).  

The  beliefs and ancient religions,especially The Ringatu ( the “Uplifted Hand”) religion, derived from the Old Testament, the parallels really intrigued me. (My Grandfather in The Netherlands was a Franciscan Priest of the Roman Catholic Church).

On this journey I discovered various characters with whom I felt a connection or a synergy with the family I know. These characters were dignified, displaying great mana and discernment, they were leaders. I felt compelled to bring them back to life as part of my study, as part of my sons cultural heritage.

The first character The Rev. Karaka Terawhiti, of Ngati-Whawhakia, I named him Te Minita- a Minister, he was an early days Maori Minister in English Church missionary work in the Waikato before the war.  

The second character I really wanted to include in the series was unfortunately only mentioned as an Unidentified Maori man with a moko, I named him Rangatira,a Chieftain- to honour his mana- a warrior of the wars, fighting for his land, fighting for his people. His strength,emotion and mana can be seen in his disdainful smoulder, which somehow looked familiar and inspired me to include him.

I went on researching our cultural heritage,and by own artistic associations ( both my Grandfathers were fine artists) I kept finding wonderful archival information of Ralph Hotere,a New Zealand artist of Maori descent, widely regarded as one of New Zealand's most important artists. Hotere's upbringing and Maori heritage underpinned much of his work, which often protested against war, colonisation, industrial and environmental catastrophe and injustice. Hotere is seen as one of the most cosmopolitan, sophisticated artists New Zealand has produced.  This inspired me to include him in this series. I approached his wider family for permission to paint his portrait which was received with positive enthusiasm.

Most recently and to my surprise I have included Sir Edmund Hillary in this series of Noble Leaders of  New Zealand...obviously a very significant New Zealander who shaped our history with his incredible bravery and mountaineering achievements,but who also was well known for his humility and affection for the people of Nepal, setting up so many hospitals and schools through the Himalayan Trust.   I have been honoured to have  a direct connection with his family through my ski club, where Sir Edmund Hillary used to stay and even train for his expeditions.  This association inspired me to include him in my series.