Weaving graduate Emma says training under tutor Kōhai Grace was an incredible experience.
“It’s a special feeling when you’re with people you can be inspired by,” says Emma, who graduated with a Bachelor in Applied Arts (Toi Poutama) in 2017.
“Working under a well-known artist exposes you to different aspects of the art world. I have been privileged to meet a number of extraordinary people throughout my years here. Our programme had our own exhibitions at least once a year. All the artists at Whitireia are so generous.”
Emma’s family is from Tokelau and she is the first generation born in New Zealand.
“I’m the grandchild of a weaver. When I decided to follow this path and I did my first weaving course, I knew I was home,” she says.
“I’d watched our women weaving and had previously ‘played’ with harakeke, but other than that I was a novice. Coming to Kōhai, from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, was a step up.”
During the programme, the students met with artists, including Sonia Snowden, and some kaitiaki of Māori taonga at Te Papa Tongarewa. The Toi Poutama programme also has a strong relationship with Pātaka Gallery in Porirua.
“Kōhai is very generous in acquainting her students with other artists and relevant professionals in our field. Ngā hononga - the connections - you develop are invaluable,” says Emma.
“With Kōhai, we have formed a weaving collective involving graduates of Toi Poutama and we see each other at least once a month. As tuākana, we’re encouraged to come back and support, those who are coming through (our tēina), just as others did for us.”
Emma plans to continue practising as an artist and possibly do further study.
“I’m very grateful for the knowledge I’ve been given. Apart from always ‘improving’, I hope to use the skills I’ve learned to assist in the retention and documentation of Tokelau weaving.”