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 digital video artwork will become inspiration for a woven 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 will video-record 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, and they worked together on a previous installation titled Ebb, made in response to jellyfish and seaweed washed up along the shoreline. During Autumn 2023, Maureen and Denise will come together again to explore the hukatai, sea foams, through observations in video and conversation. Aligned to the video and sound explorations, a sculptural installation by Maureen will be developed for Te Tuhi.

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 (Te Hikutu, Ngapuhi) is a multi-media installation artist who has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally since 1986. From the early 1990s until 2007, Maureen taught Māori Material Culture courses at Auckland University. She has a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Elam School of Fine Arts and her contemporary artwork draws inspiration from woven fibre pieces in museum collections and early illustrations. Since her retirement from university teaching, Maureen has continued to make and exhibit her artwork, mainly in the form of large fibre installations such as Aho Kura Huna in Te Papa’s cloak exhibition Kahu Ora (2012), Sky Skirts in Towards the Morning Sun at Campbelltown Arts Centre in West Sydney (2013), and Flatpack Whakapapa at the Dowse Museum, Lower Hutt (2017), then touring New Zealand until 2021.

In early 2019, Maureen moved from Hokianga to live in Whangamata, near her family. Since then, she has been involved in several community projects, including a collaboration with Te Roopu Raranga o Manaia weavers in Wellington on a large interior artwork commission for the new Waitohi Library and Community Hub in Johnsonville. Over the last few months, she has been working with a group of eight students to complete a commissioned artwork for the new atrium of the Engineering School at the University of Auckland. Her work is also represented in Puhi Ariki, the inaugural exhibition in the Wairau Māori Art Gallery at the Hundertwasser Art Centre, which opened in February 2022 in Whangārei. Dr Maureen Lander received a Te Waka Toi Kingi Ihaka award in 2019 and a Queen’s Birthday MNZM honour in 2020. During 2021, she and the Mata Aho Collective won the prestigious Walters Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery for their installation Atapo, first exhibited in the Auckland Art Gallery’s major exhibition of Māori art, Toi Tū Toi Ora. In June 2022, she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland.

Denise Batchelor

Denise Batchelor is a visual artist based in the Hokianga, in the "far north" of Aoteaora 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: Stiobhan Lothian