Matariki, Palate and a little flax flower artist from the Tron

Matariki, Palate and a little flax flower artist from the Tron

As an artist, my flax art and flax flowers are a reflection of my soul.

My cultural heritage is a combination of Indian, Irish, Scottish and Māori. The combined values of the cultural
background, together with my upbringing and family values pull me increasingly closer to the beauty of the Māori
Culture. I am drawn to the aroha (love and bonding) of the Harakeke (family unit).

Today I’m going to tell you how my art, my flax flowers and Matariki (the traditional Māori New Year Celebration) have
come together at a stunning restaurant in Hamilton called Palate.  It has been an inspiring journey for me, and I would love to share this with you.

First, some background on Matariki 

Matariki is far more than a New Year’s Bash. Matariki is a celebration of the autumn harvest – a happy pause in the hard work of filling the pātakapātaka (food stores) for the Winter ahead, an emotional and meaningful connection with those who have passed on to the spirit world, but who mean so much to us - an embrace of life and meaningful relationships and of celebrating the very Aroha (love) that I feel for my work and that I hope I deliver with my flax flowers and flax art.

Matariki is expressed through music, gatherings, fireside storytelling – it’s truly a place of love, a little like the American Thanksgiving but more spiritual. In recent times, Matariki has again become popular across New Zealand as a celebration of Māori Culture. With so many new cultures adding to our New Zealand melting pot, I am super happy that our own heritage and core indigenous culture can be recognised and celebrated in this way.

As you may know, if you have been following my business, I am a passionate artist with a love for flax, colour, texture and my homeland, New Zealand.

I was beyond thrilled to be approached recently by one of Hamilton's most exceptional dining restaurants – Palate - to create a standout piece of flax art to express Matariki – right there in the Restaurant!

In 2017, Palate's head chef Mat McLean and his team took out the Matariki Dish Challenge, and this year they are taking their entry to the next level by embracing my flax artwork in the beautiful environment of their Restaurant – my Hapene flax is even featuring on the flax paper menus!

My creative brief was only restrained by the inclusion of driftwood, flowing pieces of flax to drape down off the counter and that the Matariki stars be incorporated somehow – so off I went to the beach to find the perfect piece of driftwood!  It doesn’t get much more authentic than that!

I gathered some driftwood ‘samples’ and spent days looking at each piece and wondering how I was going to design a spectacular piece of art around it.

It seriously took DAYS. Then, on the right day with the right energy around me, BOOM one piece jumped out at me, and the ideas started flowing.

I found the perfect base for the driftwood in a lovely slab of ponga (generously given to me by David from Fernwood NZ) and got started building the art!

As the sculpture grew, each piece had to be perfect and to resonate the sentiment of Matariki, each component representing an aspect of our beautiful land.

  • Ocean toned Hapene Flax draping gracefully from the base of the driftwood represents our water, oceans, rivers, lakes and waterfalls.
  • Korus represent our beautiful native bush.
  • Flax pohutukawas represent our incredible iconic summer flower.
  • Fierce reds, oranges and yellows at the top of the piece represent our beautiful sun high up in the sky, nourishing our land.

The Matariki stars, I nestled in the heart of the gorgeous piece of driftwood.

Once my two metre high Matariki piece was finished I couldn't let it leave without gracing it with a suitable name. With the help of a few of my lovely friends, we came up with: 

Kei te whanake te reka o Matariki, mai te whenua ki te moana, ki te Palate.

Which translates to: The sweetness of Matariki springs forth from the land and sea, to Palate.

This has been a creative and inspirational project to work on – perhaps my most creative delivery to date. I feel re-energised and inspired by its completion.

While working on my Matariki piece I was also inspired to paint canvas artwork and to make smaller flax and ponga centrepieces for the dinner tables at Palate - which look fabulous both day and night.

If you are in Hamilton between 9 June - 14 July, head down to Palate on Alma Street, and try their entry dish into the Matariki Dish Challenge, it is seriously delicious (and of course, check out my art!).

Finally - a shout out to the gorgeous Helen from Helen Eagleton Photography, who gave up her Queens Birthday day off to come and get some stunning photos of my work at Palate Restaurant – two of which are featured in this blog. Definitely contact this wonderful woman if you require professional photography.

Ngā mihi mō te Tau Hou Māori ki a koutou katoa ko tōku whānau me āku hoa (Greetings and blessings for the Māori
New Year to all my family and my friends).

Sema xo


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