Nā Reuben Friend
Kua hinga anō he tōtara o te ao Māori. Aue te mamae e. He tohu whakamaumahara tēnei ma kōrua ngā tino rangatira o te ao Māori ko Colleen Waata Urlich kōrua ko Manos Nathan.
In te reo Māori we often refer to a person of great achievement as a lofty tree. In reaching great heights, their branches provide shelter for young saplings growing in their shadow. So it is with great sadness that we have lost two of our giant tōtara over the past fortnight. Today we pay tribute to two of the five fingers of the Kaihanga Uku, the National Māori ceramics collective, Colleen Waata Urlich and Manos Nathan.
Colleen’s passing exactly one week after the loss of Manos’ has come as a shock to many of us who have looked up to Colleen as the matriarch of Māori ceramics. The first time I meet Colleen and Manos was here at Pātaka art gallery during a ‘muddy’ wananga way back in 2002. So it seems surreal to once again be here at Pātaka, looking at their works in our gallery and seeing them in a different light. Pātaka Art + Museum toured the major Uku Rere survey exhibition around Aotearoa New Zealand over the past two years. The works have just returned back to the gallery and will be returning back up north in the coming weeks. I have always viewed your works as taonga, but now that you are both gone, it feels that part of you remains in your mahi – your skill, care, patience and style is imbued in your work. E kare ma, your legacy will live on through the taonga you left behind and the people that you inspired during your time upon te mata o te whenua.
Nō reira, kōrua, me haere tahi ai kōrua ki tērā whakaaturanga-nui kei runga i ngā rangitūhāhā. Kei reira e whakakatakata tahi ai. Ma te atua e manaaki, e tiaki. Haere, haere, haere atu ra.