It was common to see mama’s during my growing years wearing the ‘ei katu especially my mum been born in the Cook Islands.
I have created this original heart shaped ‘ei katu for a very special person namely Dr Matire Harwood (PhD, MBChB) who has been a leading role model for Maori woman and all society. A mother of 2 children and of Ngapuhi heritage. She has written numerous publications. Her mission is to carry, and pass on, the torch for change in equity issues and improving health. She was named New Zealand recipient of this year’s L’Oreal Unesco for Women in Science fellowship from Australia and New Zealand which comprises five $25,000 awards, including one dedicated to a New Zealander. Recently awarded the Matariki Award for her Diabetes Research project Mana Tu along with many other awards and acknowledgements throughout her career.
One day while at work Dr Matire over heard me talking with our Lead Nurse about concerns of a very large family that needed a fridge. Without hesitation, she said, “I have just won a brand new large fridge, give it to this family.” She could have easily given her old fridge at home and kept the new one for herself or even sold it but she didn’t and gifted it free to this family. One of her many qualities Te Aroha translated Charity, caring for others.
Traditionally, Maori used a variety of items to adorn the head – the most tapu part of the body – were an important part of dress. In addition to the use of oils or ochre, adornments included ephemeral feathers, flowers and leaves. Some tribal groups wore tauā (mourning wreaths) of leaves from locally available plants around their heads as a mark of mourning. Leaves ranged from fast-drooping ferns to kawakawa. This custom continued in the 2000s for important tangihanga. (Funerals)
In the Cook Islands, ‘ei katu are used on many occasions, including receptions to welcome or farewell dignitaries, at graduations and even at funerals. ‘Ei are a symbol of friendship, love and respect. ‘Ei are also used by Cook Islanders in their everyday dress. ‘Ei can be worn day or night, on special occasions, or just for completing one’s dress when going out.
’Ei comes from the proto-Polynesian word sei – which became ’ei or rei in the Maori language of the Cook Islands. In other Polynesian languages it is hei (New Zealand Maori, and Tahitian), and lei (Hawaiian).
In Hawaii haku lei can be made in one colour, such as yellow or red, or a rainbow with segments of all red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Male haku are made masculine by using various shades of green, while white haku are perfect for weddings.
I have titled this artwork No.67 Te Aroha (charity, caring for others)
Title: Te Aroha (Charity, caring for others)
Medium: Ink on Paper | Scale: 500mm x 700mm | No: 67 Artwork Project 313
This Artwork is purchasable as: Original Artwork | Prints 1 through to 10 | Prints 11 through to 313