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A story of hurt, loss, and hope

More than art was unveiled in a highly anticipated and moving ceremony at Martinborough’s Waihinga Centre this week.
The covers fell away from a striking three-dimensional piece created by local artists Sam Ludden and Violet Edwards-Hina in an early morning unveiling on Wednesday.
The piece, suspended high in the air in the entrance of the Waihinga Centre, depicted spiralling tuna [eel] swimming near a woven hinaki [net].
The work was commissioned by the Waihinga Charitable Trust, which was responsible for the construction of the centre several years ago, before it wound up.
Former trust chair Max Stevens said the aim was to create a unifying work, connecting the name Waihinga to the people of the original Maori settlement on the banks of the Ruamahanga.
Sculptor Sam Ludden, who created the tuna, said the piece had many layers of meaning and connected the past and the future.
“Much like the Ruamahanga that flows through Wairarapa, so do the tuna flowing through our whakapapa.
“This piece is about the deep connection of mana whenua to the waters that flow through this land and how it has shaped us.”
He said at the heart of the work was the health and mauri [essence] of the waterways and hoped that it would inspire young people to learn about the history of Wairarapa, its people, and the land.
Kairaranga [weaver] Edwards-Hina said everyone in Aotearoa needed to unite to fix the awa [water] and whenua [land].
She said the hinaki depicted the change underway in New Zealand in the wake of colonization.
“This hinaki is telling a story. A story of colonisation, a story of hurt, loss, destruction and death, which right now is in a restorative place.
“Times are still changing and we can only hope for the future that decisions we now make are for the betterment of all life and creations.”
She said the destruction to the waterways caused by introduced species had been noticeable in her lifetime but hoped that within her grandson’s lifetime, the waters would be restored.
“So he will see what my eyes saw in my awa. My memories will be his memories.”
South Wairarapa Mayor Martin Connelly said Ludden and Edwards-Hina’s skill and energy honoured “this place, and town, and Wairarapa”.
“It is a reminder and a challenge of what this part of the world was not so long ago.
“We lost it easily, carelessly and unknowingly in many cases. Join me in the quest to get back to the way it once was.”

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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