Te Waka o Aoraki
Original painting Sold, 1200 x 1800mm, oil on canas, 2007
The painting “Te Waka o Aoraki” was inspired by Sofia’s respect for the land and mythology of Aotearoa (New Zealand). The landscape depicts Lake Pukaki and Aoraki (Mt Cook), which is Ngai Tahu’s sacred tribal mountain and the highest peak in New Zealand. Ngai Tahu are a prominent South Island iwi (tribe) who trace their lineage back to Tahu Potiki, the younger brother of Porourangi who was one of the great ancestors of Ngati Porou - Sofia’s own iwi.
The legend of Aoraki tells of four brothers who made a grave mistake, which created the spectacular mountain range known today as Te Tiritiri o Te Moana (The Southern Alps). The story begins when Raki (the Sky Father) wedded Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother). After the marriage, the children of Raki came down from the celestial sphere to greet their father's new wife. Among them were Raki’s four sons named Aoraki (Cloud in the Sky), Rakiora (Long Raki), Rakirua (Raki the Second), and Rarakiroa (Long Unbroken Line). They descended to earth in a canoe called Te Waka o Aoraki and spent time with Papatuanuku, who lay as one body in an vast continent known as Hawaiiki. After exploring the surrounding ocean, the brothers decided to return to their home. However the karakia (incantation), which should have lifted the waka back to the heavens failed and the canoe fell back into the sea and leaned over onto its side, turning to stone and earth in the process. Thus the earthen waka became the South Island of New Zealand, hence the name of the painting and the oldest name of the South Island being "Te Waka o Aoraki". Aoraki and his brothers clambered on to the high side and were also turned to stone, remaining there until this day as the mountains of the Southern Alpes.
This vivid, eerie environment is Sofia’s interpretation of an iconic New Zeland landscape, enriched by stories of ancient peoples, gods and natural history. Aoraki stands firmly as a quiet giant that has endured patiently over generations of human migration, natural evolution, creation and extinction. The ancient mountain bore witness to the rise and fall of New Zealand’s majestic Pouakai Eagle – a native bird known to prey on Moa with a wingspan of up to three meters, which became extinct A.D.1400. These immense, graceful creatures are pictured soaring over Aoraki as the guardians of the history and wairua (spirit) of the land.
Te Waka o Aoraki comes in a special limited edition print of just 30. Prints are on matte paper of museum archival quality. Image size is 367 x 550mm and is surrounded by an unprinted white border. All prints are proofed by the artist Sofia Minson before she signs, titles, dates and numbers them. Shipping is FREE within NZ and $35 everywhere else (prices are NZD). Unframed print arrives sealed in protective tube or sleeve.
Sofia Minson Oil Paintings | New Zealand Artwork