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Visualising the birth of the Manawatu River

30 August 2012

Visualising the birth of the Manawatu River

An exhibition at Square Edge in Palmerston North shows the creation of the Manawatu River and the Manawatu Gorge, as visualised by UCOL Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging students.

The exhibition, which opens tomorrow (Friday 31 August), shows the sequential journey of Ōkatia who, according to legend, created the river and the gorge, called Te Apiti or the cleft in Maori.

Illustrations Lecturer Steven Leurink says the work on display is the result of 12 second year BAVI students working in collaboration with UCOL Maori staff and students to gain an understanding of the story of Ōkatia. Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History also provided material for the students.

“This process allows the students to gain understanding to manage an illustration that requires sensitivity towards cultural relevance and what depicts our region, Rangitane. Using appropriation and by working the narrative, the students are now the storytellers.”

BAVI student Cameron MacDonald, who contributed to the exhibition, says: “The legend of Ōkatia is the story of the creation of the Manawatu River which as we know is the life source of the Manawatu Region. Ōkatia, a spirit living within a totara tree, longed to see the sea. Out of sheer determination the tree uprooted itself and carved a path from the Manawatu to the West Coast, leaving a river in his wake. He also broke his way through the Tararua Ranges creating Te Apiti (the Gorge). The tree is said to have either made it out to Kapiti island or been washed out to sea.”

According to legend, this is how the Tararua and Ruahine mountain ranges became separated and how the Manawatu River was created.

The BAVI Illustration exhibition opens at 5.30 p.m. Friday 31 August and runs until 25 September at Square Edge in Church Street.


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