Shona Rapira-Davies

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1951
Ngāti Wai ki Aotea, Māori

Kawakawa Job 12: 7-8

  • 2022
  • Stainless steel
  • Purchased 2022
  • 1600 x 800 x 700mm
  • 2022/251

Kawakawa, with its distinctive heart-shaped leaves, has long been valued by Māori for its many medicinal benefits. Here, Shona Rapira-Davies uses it as both a symbol for healing, and a reminder of Māori histories and knowledge. It is a companion piece to her major installation Ko Te Kihikihi Taku Ingoa, a memorial to the children and people of the pacifist settlement at Parihaka, Taranaki, which was invaded by colonial forces in 1881. Rapira-Davies took the title of her work from a Biblical passage that encourages humans to learn from the other life forms we share this planet with:

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
     or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;

or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.

Tena ra, ui atu ki ngakararehe, ma ratou koe ewhakaako;
ki nga manu o te rangi, ma ratou e korero ki a koe;

Korero atu ranei ki te whenua, a mana koe e whakaako;
ka whakaaturia mai ano hoki ki a koe e nga ika o te Moana.

Many of the leaves on this small tree are marked with caterpillar bites, a sign that its therapeutic properties are at their height.

Exhibition History