This week I have four days off work, and I intend spending the whole time painting. I have to get some big works done for an exhibition in Auckland. BUT this coming Friday is Waitangi Day. It’s the day New Zealand celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the document that more than 150 years ago was signed between Maori and the Crown detailing how this land would be in the future. It gives Maori equal rights in law – amazing for a colony in the 1800s – and probably one of the reasons New Zealand has, in the main anyway, thrived as a bi-cultural society.
This Friday my town, Patea, celebrates with an event called Paepae in the Park. It’s a massive day with music, food stalls, speeches – all celebrating our diverse community (Patea has a high percentage of Maori, as has this area generally). Businesses are closed but to support the day I open the library, which is next to the park where the event is held. A top NZ band, Katchafire, is playing this year, and we expect about 5,000 people to attend. The library has disabled access toilets, and offers people time out in the shade and quiet. I also think it is good for the library, and me as library manager, to be seen to be involved in events within the community. Last year the event did not go ahead because of a massive industrial fire in town on the day. The year before I had more than 700 people through the doors on the day – amazing, because at that stage our usual weekly footprint count was only 500.What does that have to do with painting? Well — I am going to do some small, 4×4 or 6×6, acrylic paintings of Mt Egmont to display – and hopefully sell – in the library. The Mountain (Maunga) is very important to local Maori. When they have been away form the area, seeing Mt Egmont signals that they are ‘home’. So I have cropped a favorite photo of the mountain to square-ish, and turned it to gray-scale to make the values more obvious. And tomorrow head into my art room to get messy. Love it.