Written by Christie Wright for Street Prints Mauao about her mural.
When deciding what to paint for this festival, Land and Sea. I tossed up between a pretty picture or the conservation message. However, re reading the legend of Mauao, I decided to portray another important theme; depression.
In ancient times he was a nameless mountain, a slave with an unrequited love for another. He decided to take his life by drowning in the ocean. He called upon the help of the patupaiarehe (fairy people of the night) to pull him into the ocean. When they arrived at the ocean, daybreak was fast approaching, and the patupaiarehe retreated leaving the task unfinished. But they gave a name to the mountain, Mauao, meaning caught by the dawn. The rays of the sun had saved Mauau’s life, and in time, Mauao gained great prestige and mana – standing now as a symbol of all tribes of Tauranga Moana.
As a long time sufferer of depression this resonated with me. I often fall into darkness like Mauao only to have the light of a new day bring hope and show me that I am surrounded by loved ones. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, even when it’s difficult to see/find it.
I’ve depicted Mauao with the rays of the sun (Koru; symbol of new life) wrapped tight around him, to show that with each new day the support around you can give you a new chance. Within him is the darkness; Whiro. However the darkness can be embraced, harnessed and supported, it can have mana, it can be loved, it can grow into the light.
He’s embraced by the land and sea. Land is giving him Manaia; protection. Sea gives him Mangotipi; strength. Land and sea, twist together in a Pikoura; connection, with the earth and those who wish to support us.
So remember that when you embrace life and the world around you; start with small steps, turn to someone for support; then you can achieve great things. The darkness is not permanent, there is always the hope of a new dawn. It is a reminder that you are not alone. Someone loves you and appreciates you.
Other symbols of meaning used are the fern and octopus. Ika Moana (whale) meaning protection. Kowhai and Manuka were chosen as they are used by maori for healing. I had a great time researching maori culture and although I don’t have any blood ties I feel an affinity to our indigenous culture.
In Aotearoa many suffer depression and we have extremely high rates of suicide. I believe that the issue is not talked about enough and people have to suffer in silence. My hope is that this mural will give people a sense of hope and brighten their day, but also start discussion on the issue of mental health and what’s being done about it.
For more information about Christie, see links below;