Four paintings in the series of self-portraits depicting June’s journey through the stages of breast cancer:
Red, yellow and orange are the colours of fire. The papahou at the top of the painting is the container of treasures. It relates to the retention of values and all that I hold dear.
The manaia are again protecting my spiritual, mental and emotional being. I’m under siege—the radiation is insidious, burning and destroying wayward and healthy cells.
The lasers line up with the tattoo marks on my body so I have tattoos but not traditional ones. the moko kauae on the left relate to my Tuhourangi—Ngāti Wahiao heritage, strong women of prominence within the tribe.
The patterns are broken with another form of identity, but this one is my treatment number, DSY 1211. Like a brand it singles me out from every other patient in the hospital.
The right of the painting talks about my father’s side of the family, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, and my father, Henry Williams Northcroft. His army regimental number is 65423. He won medals for bravery during WWII and I call on his presence to help me fight this battle.
Dad’s mother Riihi Waaka was known for her fine taniko and this pattern is in memory of her.
Below this is the heitiki, which is now held by my daughter Marnie, called Te Uoro. It belonged to our kuia Maggie Papakura.
The maro carries the puhoro, and there are two unborn babies under the maro which denotes the empty womb—te whare tangata or the house of man, which has been prematurely shut down.
My hair is starting to re-grow, my new life (post chemotherapy and radiation) has only just begun.
—excerpt from December 2003/January 2004 issue of Mana magazine
Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa, Tuhourangi-Ngāti Wahiao
June graduated from the Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua with a Diploma of Craft Design in 1989. Inspired by her ancestors and their art, she continues the tradition for the future generations of her family. Her work is often interwoven with powerful figures and stories from her tribal histories. She says, “Each time I paint the story of one amazing tupuna (ancestor), another comes to light with yet another fascinating contribution to the histories of the tribe.”
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