Āraiteuru Print
Fig 1.  Lee Rapira – Āraiteuru 2017 Digital image

Q1. Why did you pick the subject?

Mitimiti a small west coast town in the Hokianga, New Zealand and it is through my fathers whānau (family) that I connect to these works.

Hokianga map
Fig 2. Map of Hokianga Harbour







These pieces evolved out of a Self Portrait assignment found here and is based on the idea of expanding perception by making many images out of one.

These digital images at the beginning were created out of experimentation and were quickly linked via the story of Āraiteuru, the guardian of the Hokianga harbour in the Far North.

Process: I took my photo using a mobile phone, cropped it then saved several of these images using different colors and tones. From here I used an online editing program, utilizing the layering and blending tools. This photo is what I have made all of the other images in this series with.

Q2. What is some of the history of your subject/subjects?

The history of Āraiteuru is interesting and like most oral stories is varied and dependent on the iwi (tribe) you talk to.  I’ve added Kylie McCormicks (2013) story below Basil Keane’s (2007) Taniwha of the sea so the most popular tale can be read and understood while viewing my other works in this series.

Ārai Te Uru

Fig 5. Basil Keane – Taniwha of the Sea (2007)

Story of Āraiteuru as told by Kylie McCormick.

‘She arrived to her new home pregnant, and she gave birth very shortly after her voyage. She had eleven taniwha sons, all of whom turned out to be rather competitive in nature. Her eldest, Waihou, boasted that he could burrow farther than any of the others. Upon hearing his claim, she asked all of her children to go and see the country in which they lived, burrowing as far as they could. Then, they were to report what they had seen. Each of her sons made a journey, but not all of them returned to tell the tale. However, they each left behind essential aspects of the Hokianga Harbour and surrounding geography as part of their borrowing quests.

Today, Araiteuru (Āraiteuru) lives in a cave to the south of Hokianga Harbour, where any passerby can see the heavy surf breaking across the bar. She is the guardian taniwha of the region, companioned with another taniwha named Niua / Niwa / Hiwa, who lives to the north of the harbor. Locals make sure not to bother or anger Araiteuru (Āraiteuru), for she has been known to raise storms or even wreck traveling water vessels on the bar over her cavern in response to provocation.

Q3. In what ways do the works link together?

This series of work is linked together through my whakapapa (genealogy, lineage, descent) which is Ngā Puhi on my father’s side.  The Hokianga region, Āraiteuru and her sons are all connected and come under this.

Q4. How do the works fit into your sense of culture?

I don’t know how to be any thing else but Māori so this is a direct expression of who I am.  It reminds me of where I come from and also reflects me as an artist which I’m happy with.

Q5. What did you enjoy/dislike most about your project?

I really enjoyed learning more about the Hokianga and hope to interpret this a lot more in the future. There was nothing I disliked about it.

Q6. What were the challenges that were overcome?

It was a real challenge to make each image different than the last using one very plain profile picture and yet, not so different that the images weren’t cohesive.

Q7. What would you do differently?



Fig 2. Schaad, F. Map of Hokianga HarbourRetrieved from http://www.hokianga.net.nz/hokianga/

Fig 5. Keane, B. (2007) ‘Taniwha – Taniwha of the sea’, New Zealand Post 2000 Spirits and Guardians stamp issue,
Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Retrieved from – http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/postage-stamp/10864/araiteuru (accessed 15 June 2017)


McCormick, K. (2013) Dragons of Fame Araiteuru (Āraiteuru) / Arai-te-uru
Retrieved http://www.blackdrago.com/fame/araiteru.htm#about

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