MANA MOANA: AKL/HNL
By Ngahiraka Mason
When a Pacifica movement such as Mana Moana rises, we feel uplifted. When contemporary Maori and native Hawaiian people renew ancestral ties we meet as family. When connectivity is established we emerge with new understandings of the mana that flows from the ocean which Maori call Te Moanauiakiwa and Kanaka Maoli (native people) from Hawaii call Moananuiakea. When we feel mana in our veins and in our hearts, we persist as Pacifica people.
Star Gossage and Solomon Enos came to this project to give intentional expression to Mana Moana, a movement inspired by Tongan philosopher Epeli Hau’ofa who proposed that our collective future lies in ocean-based philosophy, strengthening our connection to each other rather than land-based thought systems that divide and separate.
This inaugural Mana Moana kaupapa (project) started auspiciously on the last day of 2015 and continued for three weeks into January 2016. The artists absorbed as much as possible during this intensive meeting period producing paintings in Honolulu, Oahu and in Pakiri, New Zealand. Friends and whanau amplified the cultural interchange with visits to sacred sites, through hospitality and the sharing of whanau knowledge. In Honolulu Mana Moana was supported by the Meyer Aluli ohana (family) from Honolulu and the Enos ohana from Waianae on the west coast of Oahu, and in Pakiri by Ngati Wai whanau led by Star Gossage and her family and friends.
The exhibition Mana Moana: AKL/HNL bears out the fact that interchange develops in a different way when family are involved. And transformative experiences happen when whanau and admirers are encouraging and caring mentors. While in Honolulu and after her return to Pakiri, Star Gossage painted the environs of Ka’ala and Kukaniloko – significant cultural sites on the west coast of Oahu Island. Ka’ena, at the farthest end of the Waianae coast is the rerenga wairua (spiritual leaping off place) on Oahu Island. Ka’ena is also where the ocean currents from Te Rerenga Wairua at the tip of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand arrive and come to rest on the Waianae coast. Enos grew up and was nurtured by this environment.
Gossage’s paintings of Oahu’s western ranges are time-worn ridges shaped by rain. They look like unmoving sentinels watching over the coastline. The conveying of emotion in her paintings are portends of good tidings. Pasifica men, women and children are portrayed wearing aloha attire and lei, dressed up waiting for an occasion to announce itself.
Through Mana Moana the artists discovered that living and painting in a village in rural New Zealand or living and painting in an urban environment in Honolulu produces the same regard and custom of aloha aina (love of land) and matemateaone – a longing for place. While the land is the physical plane that binds Pacifica people like Gossage and Enos together, the ocean is the metaphoric heartbeat that echoes back and forth across the waters between Aotearoa and Hawaii.
As the project’s initiator and curator, it was exciting to watch Gossage’s paintings emerge in front of my eyes. I was able to experience the ways that she calibrates aloha/aroha and to view her expression of regard for Enos’ Hawai’i and for her own Pakiri.
Honolulu, March 2016
MANA MOANA: AKL/HNL
Star Gossage & Solomon Enos
Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland, NZ
08 Mar – 02 Apr 2016
MANA MOANA: HNL/AKL
Solomon Enos & Star Gossage
Na Mea Hawai’i @ WCIT Architecture, Honolulu HI, USA
08 Mar – 08 Apr 2016
Photography: Kallan MacLeod