An isolated upbringing and an engaged and artistic Mother encouraged Kahu to be creative from an early age. “I grew up really rural, and there was no one really to hang out with. My Mum is a Pākehā who bravely married into Tūhoe. She really encouraged me to be creative. She had me draw my entire whakapapa in crayons and watercolour. She is a dabbling writer, and also has beautiful photos that she took as a university student. These two things in particular were really formative on the interests that I myself have taken on.”
"She really encouraged me to be creative. She had me draw my entire whakapapa in crayons and watercolour."
In terms of influences and her artistic development, Kahu explains that in high school she was obsessed with a Tumblr artist called Jenny Yu. “I used to just rip off her earlier stuff in my school books completely. I have a tattoo inspired by her work on my arm. As I kept drawing, I slowly developed my own style and identity in the drawings. My women became Māori. I don’t consider myself an artist. My best work is on the margins of my lecture notes lol. But I do love other artists, and have thought often about how we frame Māori women in art. I want to rip shit into this idea of the passive dusky maiden. A pose is so powerful.”
"I want to rip shit into this idea of the passive dusky maiden. A pose is so powerful.”
“I created this set of three prints to fund-raise for a cause I have come to care very deeply about. In November I will travel to COP24 in Poland with 6 other Polynesian rangatahi. COP is the annual meeting of all the nations on the planet to work very intensely towards a global consensus on climate change action. We will take with us the issues that are most imminent for Māori and Pasifika in the climate change conversation. This mahi that we want to accomplish is not optional, we have no planet B. I am attending out of a deep sense of duty to my whenua and to my whānau.” Kahu describes this sense of duty as “a huge honour.”
Currently Kahu’s works are out of print, but the planet is not yet! You can still donate to their PledgeMe Campaign. Kahu says that they have been “overwhelmed by the support so far. But we still have a long way to go in our fundraising journey.” Even $5 will go a long way.