Topic: Environment

Māori artist says plastic is a taonga

By Native Affairs

Geroge Nuku's new artwork is a statement about his papakāinga in Heretaunga and the plastic and rubbish that pollutes his cherished awa. He's called upon local rangatahi, who are helping him create his new work and in the process are learning how to care for Papatuanuku.

Returning home after a stint overseas, artist George Nuku has something to say.

His new artwork is a statement about his papa kainga in Hawke's Bay and the plastic and rubbish that pollutes his cherished river.

“Plastic is a taonga, a treasure.  It comes from Papatūānuku and Ranginui, so it’s my elder.  I’m trying to establish a respectful relationship with my elders with this material.”

In Heretaunga, more than 5 billion litres of water is extracted from waterways each year for various usages, including irrigation and water bottling.

Nuku has called upon local rangatahi- who are helping him create his new work and in the process are learning how to recycle- to care for the environment and use plastic bottles to create art.

“It’s simple maths.  You’ve got this much plastic, you’ve got these many artists and you’ve got these schools and young people.

“In six weeks we could be [waste] free and we could have a whole lot of employment and a whole lot of creative young people.”