The mahi that we want to accomplish is not optional, we have no planet B - Kahu Kutia selling Prints to get Seven Rangatahi to Poland to Advocate for Indigenous Persepectives on Climate Change.
By Tayi Tibble
Kahu Kutia (Ngāi Tūhoe) is a 21 year old writer, artist and indigenous advocate, raised in Te Urewera, and currently residing in Wellington. Kahu created a series of three prints that practically haka, Mana Wahine and Tino Rangatiratanga.. fitting, because Kahu has been selling these prints in order to raise money to get six rangatahi to COP24 in Poland to advocate for indigenous issues in regards to climate change. We spoke to Kahu about her creative upbringing, her internet influences, and her inherent sense of duty that is driving her incredible mahi. Kahu is currently a contributing writer for Vice NZ.
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."
Kahu says she took photography in high school because she was “a rubbish painter.” Kahu describes how she created the series digitally, “the images that I have created for this series are actually done on Photoshop. I tried Adobe Illustrator but I don’t get it. Sometimes they are real people, sometimes they are a self-portrait.” She thinks artist and musician JessB looks “bomb in photos” and so she has “used her as a reference several times.”
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.”
Though she might not consider herself an artist (she is, just look at her prints!), she describes herself as “a writer mostly.” This is apparent in the series which combines images and text, but most importantly has something urgent to say.
“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.
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