Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Tui — The Orator


“Ka tangi te koko.” - The tui calls. The tui is standing on red sacred ground - representing the marae atea, space for discussion, concerning topics of import for iwi (tribe).

The tui with his wonderful eloquence becomes a synonym for the orator.

Within the ritual of encounter, Ranginui (the Sky Father) and Papa Tu a Nuku (the Earth Mother) are acknowledged as part of the speechmaking, thereby reminding the people of the brotherhood of man and all life, and the responsibilities of kinship.

The pattern within the sky area is a mnemonic for constancy in the social structure as revealed in the inevitable cycles of nature. “Ka mate he tete kura, ka tupu he tete kura” (As one fern frond (leader) dies, another fern frond grows). The colour yellow the artist identifies as illumination, both of light and understanding. The dark space under the red is the journey we all travel at this life’s end.

Gabrielle Belz

Gabrielle Belz


Ngā Puhi, Te Ātiawa

(1947- )

Initially trained as a commercial artist, Gabrielle is now a full-time painter and printmaker. She continues to support and promote art in the local and wider community as current chair of Te Atinga (Committee of Contemporary Māori Visual Arts) of Toi Māori Aotearoa, a founding member of Kauwae (National Māori Women’s Art Collective), trustee of Toi o Manukau, a long-serving member of Nga Puna Waihanga (a national community-oriented organization that supports all Māori arts), a founding member of the artists’ co-operative Pukeko, and she serves on the Creative Community Funds committee for Manukau City.