Our response begins with the nature of the immediate location of the artwork. The light-well, its function and its symbolism. We see a sympathetic link between the light-well and the nature of a University.
If we consider a University as a place of learning, of sharing knowledge, of encouraging thinking and building understanding. If we hope that a University will cultivate awareness through education and inspire new ways of thinking. If we regard a University as a repository of social, cultural and practical knowledge, offering a contextual lens to be used to view our history, present and future through. Then it is a small stretch to see how a University might perform a role similar to that of a light well, simply to shed light into the corners of our surroundings where we can’t see so well. Illuminating the unknown and enabling us to continue forward.
The theme of learning and enlightenment is continued through the presence of Kahukura, the atua for which the area is named and who is often embodied or represented through a rainbow. The rainbow can be seen as a connection between the heavens and earth in a number of stories. In one Hina used a rainbow to return her mortal husband to earth so that death may not enter her celestial home. In another story Tangaroa used a rainbow to allow him to call on Hina, the outcome of which gave birth to the whanau kehu a Tangaroa.
Within the initial concept we have employed the rainbow as a connection between our lived experience on earth and our inquisitive nature to delve into the esoteric and the mystery of the unknown. It is the symbol for an aspirational pathway to knowledge. It is our connection to the heavens, the stars and the spirits as we seek guidance and a way forward.
The inclusion of poutama builds simultaneously on the notion of a connection between the heavens and earth and of pathways to knowledge and understanding. In addition to the poutama we have also included Matriki star forms and a depiction of the transit of Venus – one of the first significant European astrological undertakings carried out in Aotearoa.
The University and the surrounding area sits on land that was once a dense Kauri forest. The transformation the land has undergone is substantial and troubling when viewed from a place such as the year 2020.
The historic loss of extensive natural habitat is mirrored through the current threat of Kauri die back disease and the ensuing closure of public access to the Lucas Creek Waterfall.
Responding to this ecological transformation we have determined the Kauri to be the primary botanical reference within the artwork. It is both a lament and a hope for the Kauri. Within this we acknowledge that the University, standing upon long cleared land, may like to take up a position as kaitiaki, promoting kaitiakitanga through the support of a Tikanga Māori world view. Within the artwork new growth and seed pods are visible, hinting at purposeful activity and decision making towards cultivating healthy and thriving ecologies of all forms.
The name of the work “The Landing” references an early name used for the head of Kaipātiki/Lucas Creek but also alludes to the point where Kahukura or the rainbow makes contact with the earth.