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Friday, 19 April 2019 08:21 pm

Japanese anime meets Maori myth in Wellington artist’s new mural

Ruaumoko by Taupuruariki Brightwell

Japanese anime and Maori myth fuse with a new mural by Wellington artist Taupuruariki Brightwell on Bond Street in Wellington’s CBD.

The work depicts Ruaumoko, the Maori God of earthquakes, volcanos and thunder as part of the street art group Vivid’s project called Paint Hell Pizza on Bond Street.

She chose Ruaumoko after the earthquakes of November last year.

Ruaumoko is the Maori God of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Thunder

“He’s quite an angry and vengeful God,” says Taupuruariki.

“When his brother’s separated his parent’s, none of them came to consult him about it and so when the other God’s went to control their domains like the sea, forest and so on, they left him behind.

“But before they did, they gave him the gift of warmth, but they didn’t consider what he thought about that.”

The warmth became the source of his power.

“As a consequence he decided to use this power of warmth to harness it into heat and fire, creating magma.

“From creating magma, he then created volcanos and thunder.

“So he’s got a lot of power.”

Taupuruariki Brightwell

Although talented in many areas, especially digital, Brightwell says she loves large scale mural painting the most and would like to do a lot more of it.

“I really enjoy getting down on my feet, getting dirty, flapping paint around and working on something massive,” she says.

“There’s something about that I find, compared to everything else I do, you just can’t compare to painting something large like that, all on a big wall.”

Growing up, she was thrust into martial arts, canoeing and art.

Taupuruariki’s father is Matahi Brightwell, who is a highly skilled and respected Maori carver and artist.

She is aware she had big shoes to fill as his daughter.

“He’s one of the last remaining traditional carvers in New Zealand as well as one of the key founders of the outrigger canoeing sport.

While her father is traditional, Brightwell grew up loving Japanese Manga.

Brightwell moved to Wellington from Gisborne in 2007, and has studied at both Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University.

She says life in the city has influenced her greatly.

The mural was part of Paint Hell’s Pizza on Bond Street

It is also where Brightwell, who is transgendered, started her transition in 2014.

“Though that journey up to this year, has really made me settle in and really appreciate the city for what it is.

“And sculpted me in the character I am today,” she says.

“I’m not sure it influenced my art. I think what it did is now that I have nothing to hide, I feel free.”

Although her influences lie in Japanese Anime and Manga, and later American illustrators, she says she has a new found appreciation for her native culture.

“I’m starting to go back to my origins in terms of my identity as a Maori/Polynesian and I’m now starting to pull out and incorporate things from my culture into my work.

“But stylise it and present it how I see it in my own mind.”

She is currently in the initial stages of creating an animated telling of traditional Maori myths. However she wants to depict the Maori Gods as something different to the human-like Gods of past tellings.

Brightwell is also considering applying to be a police officer as well as carrying on her art.

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