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Hukatai – huka/foam, tai/tide
Hukahuka – froth; thrums on a cloak; fringe; hanging in shreds
Hukatai – a white stone used in the ceremonies of the whare wananga

This series of lens-based observations will become inspiration for a fibre installation that will monitor the ephemeral, weather-borne sea foam at the entrance and shoreline of Te Hokianga Nui a Kupe, the Hokianga Harbour, in north-west New Zealand. The south headland is named Araiteuru, after a legendary taniwha who was located in a cave there. Maureen Lander’s ancestor, Te Waenga, was a tohunga who controlled the wind and the waves at the bar entrance and kept his powers in the cave.

Over the course of a year, Denise Batchelor has photographed and filmed the rhythms of different foams in the Hokianga Harbour, monitoring their weather and tidal appearances and following the light of their rainbow textures and their seasonal shifts. Denise lives close to Araiteuru, with views out over the harbour to Niwa, the taniwha embodied by the sandhills at the north head. When Maureen lived in Hokianga, she often joined Denise in her walks, and they worked together on a previous installation titled Ebb, made in response to jellyfish and seaweed washed up along the shoreline. During Summer 2023, Maureen and Denise came together again to explore the hukatai, sea foams, through walks on the shore, lens-based observations, and conversation. An installation by Maureen and Denise will be developed for Te Tuhi in June, together with sound composer Stiobhan Lothian.

The shoreline and the horizon are liminal spaces, thresholds or "crossing over” spaces, where land meets sea and sea meets sky – transitional spaces activated by weather. A liminal space can also be a longer space-time continuum. Sea foam is a visible indicator of the gradual effects of climate change on inundation over time as well as the immediate effect of weather events like storms at sea. It can also indicate the presence of toxic organisms such as algae bloom and microplastics that help churn up masses of foam in certain weather conditions. Te Hukatai, the sea foams, are messengers of things to come.

About the Artists

Maureen Lander

Maureen Lander (Ngāpuhi, Te Hikutū) is a multi-media installation artist whose work has contributed significantly to the recognition of weaving in a contemporary art context. Her artwork draws inspiration from woven fibre taonga in museum collections as well as from contemporary installation art. She first began learning cloak-making skills from noted Māori weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa, and spent many years researching and teaching Māori Material Culture at Auckland University. As an artist, Maureen is committed to innovation in a way that is deeply collaborative. Since her retirement from university teaching she has worked with or mentored contemporary artists and weaving groups in the wider community. Lander received Ngā Tohu ā  Tā Kingi Ihaka Award from Te Waka Toi in 2019 and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2020. In 2022 she was made a distinguished alumnus by the University of Auckland and was awarded an Arts Foundation Laureate Award.

Denise Batchelor

Denise Batchelor is a visual artist based in the Hokianga, in the "far north" of Aotearoa New Zealand. Working primarily in photography and video, her practice is predominately focused on her engagement with the natural environment; capturing fleeting moments that are often overlooked or unseen. She frequently photographs and videos the changing weather patterns on the sky, sea and sandhills from her home and on her walks along the beach. A recipient of artist residencies and art awards, Batchelor has exhibited widely in galleries, museums and festivals in New Zealand and internationally. Her work is held in public and private collections. In 2020, as part of the New Zealand Festival, her work was projected onto the exterior of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Sound/music: Stìobhan Lothian

Stìobhan Lothian is a sound artist/composer based in Aotearoa. His sound resume extends from near – collaborating on performance soundscapes at Unitec's School of Contemporary Dance – to far,  working with sound artist/musician Alexei Borisov for several years while living in Moscow. Other highlights include creating a sound installation for Cat Ruka's multimedia show Skulduggery at the Wellington Fringe Festival, and locally, collaborating with composer Claire Cowan on the sound for Alys Longley's Suture production at the Little Maidment Theatre.