Doris Lusk

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1916, d.1990

Okains Bay, Banks Peninsula

  • 1949
  • Oil on canvas board
  • Bequest of John Cleaver, 2013
  • 943 x 940mm
  • 2013/081
  • View on google maps

'Now, the original name of Okains Bay is Kā Awatea. It’s an old settlement area, the old kāika [village] on the peninsula – and of course a place of mahika kai [food gathering], a zone receiving or exploiting the treasure left around the peninsula by Marokura who endowed the place with all things growing in the sea: fish, seaweeds, shellfish and so on.

'The region was all part of the work of Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa, the atua [demi-god] who shaped the land, the engineer, the repairer of the wrecked waka [canoe] that came to be known as Te Waipounamu [the South Island]. When Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa finished on the east coast, he went west to the Paparoa. There he created his first valley, Ka Māwheranui o Ka Kuha o Tu Te Rakiwhanoa, which means the river that runs to its sea, at Greymouth. His last big challenge was to become Fiordland. There he was assisted by Hine-Nui-Te-Pō – this was before she became the Mother who gathers in the dead. Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa was the re-shaper, the salvager; Hine-Nui-Te-Pō was like an adorner, she worked with him as an assistant.

'When the Pākehā arrived, much of the peninsula was heavily forested with Podocarp. You can still see old fossilised tōtara stumps lying all around the tops of the hills. As I understand it, Christchurch was built 
off those forests.' —Sir Tipene O’Regan

(He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land, 17 September 2016 – 18 February 2017)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • In the vast emptiness, 8 January - 21 August 2016

    When interviewed in 1987, Doris Lusk recalled her attraction to the Banks Peninsula landscape:

    '[A]long that top road, the old forests are very, very visible […] those ruinous trees […] in the process of rotting, of becoming derelict logs […] remain as the shell of the trunk which is sort of indestructible […] as if it had been made.'

    Lusk’s family and others rented a farmhouse above Duvauchelle during the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the surrounding countryside, including the view down into Okains Bay from the summit road, providing the subject matter for many of her paintings at the time.