Mahi toi is more than just visual aesthetics. It’s a vibrant tapestry where we can weave culture, identity and narratives into the urban landscape. In Te Tōangaroa, you’ll find mahi toi by way of murals, art activations and installations peppered around the precinct to share the history of the land, and the journey and connection that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has to it. Primarily created by Ngāti Whatua Ōrākei whānau artists, the mahi toi trail is a must see for anyone wanting to explore and learn about the area’s history.
At the entrance to AECOM House at 8 Mahuhu Crescent you’ll find Tai Timu. An art installation by Graham Tipene, it cleverly details the original shoreline of the Waitemata (in pink), against the current shoreline (blue). A vibrant statement piece, it lights up the building’s entrance with the lighting set on a timer to sync with the local tides.
Also created by the talented duo, Hana and Poi, Te Herenga waka depicts Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei ancestors who voyaged across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa to Aotearoa, signified by the kiwa manu, a significant migration bird. It acknowledges the iwi’s ancestral waka Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi that was captained by Rongomai.
The mural is laid out to reveal its own kōrero by interpreting it from left to right. It illustrates the artist’s tupuna who came from Hawaiki and showcases the trials and tribulations they had to go to find other lands, as well as complete the voyage to reconnect with whānau already on the whenua.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei uri Hana Maihi and Te Whetū Collective member Poi Ngawati are the creatives behind two murals on a 12 metre high air vent on the corners of Tangihua Street and Dockside Lane; Te Tōangaroa and Pū Kawautia. Pū Kawautia depicts a kawau bird, which are commonly found near coastal waters. The kawau in this mural is standing tall, symbolising empowerment, and standing as a reminder of the unwavering whakapapa and wairua from the ancestors to the descendants today.
The second mural completed by the creative duo reflects the heritage of the area and ahurea Māori. The artwork depicts a tiheru (bailer) and is inspired by the glistening waters of Te Waitematā that Te Tōangaroa overlooks.
Ngā wai o te ata hāpara honours the important roles and responsibilities that everyone has in navigating their trials, tribulations, celebrations, and challenges of life. It is an acknowledgement to the determined whānāu and kaitaiki across Tāmaki Makaurau who work tirelessly to protect and restore the tāonga across the isthmus.
There is a cohesiveness between these murals which each reflect the vibrant history of the harbour.
In collaboration with Spark Arena, a three-panel mural project was commissioned to bring vibrancy to that particular area. Numa Mackenzie uses an array of colours to celebrate the diversity of our communities and make the connection to tangata whenua, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
The ground floor of AECOM House is also home to a piece designed collaboratively by Beronia Scott, Ruth Cullen Scott, Shelley Faiers, Kororia Witika, Rebecca Reid, and Te Whaea Witika. Gifted the name Te Tumu Herenga Waka, meaning the mooring post, it uses the weaving pattern Aramoana (pathway to the ocean) to share a piece of the history of Te Tōangaroa.
AECOM House is one of the commercial investment properties belonging to the hapū and this piece was commissioned to inspire pride amongst the workplace, adding to the cultural design within the wider precinct.