As originally written by me in the course of painting the works - with additional personal insights into the design process.

In many cases in the illustrations, I've hinted at hidden meanings or legends. Please look out for these - they are also mentioned in these notes. In particular, I adopted the morepork and the lizard as symbols of the tapu put on the tree. They accompany the tree in the paintings for as long as the tapu is in place.

New Zealand native animals, birds and plants are listed, with both Maori and European names, putting first the name I consider to be the more commonly used. Each also has its Latin name, and although these seem cumbersome and difficult for young people to remember, it is these names that place our animals and plants precisely in a worldwide scientific system of taxonomy (classification) - which is helpful for readers from abroad.

Many thanks for the author's inspiring storyline, and for all the photos of Taketakerau and Google Earth captures of the surrounding country she supplied to help me get local topography and the tree 'right'.

Page 2
 Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae).

Koro is shown wearing a korowai black-tasselled cloak, woven from the fibre of the NZ Flax or harakeke (Phormium tenax). The author requested a "dreamtime" flavor for this painting, and as I was pondering how to do this, it occurred to me how important weaving was for recording genealogy and legend on the tukutuku panels created for meeting house walls and in taniko borders for cloaks. Picking up on this theme, Koro's cloak became a symbol of the woven patterns of story, legend and myth that make up our history.

Page 3
 Laughing Owl, whekau (Sceloglaux albifacies - extinct); Giant Snail (Powelliphanta species - endangered); Huhu Beetle (Prionoplus reticularis).
 Puriri (Vitex lucens); Nikau Palm (Rhopalostylis sapida); Kohekohe, NZ Mahogany (Dysoxylum spectabile) - note the flower racemes growing directly from the trunk; Supplejack, kareao (Ripogonum scandens).

The final inspiration for this scene came from the bush in the untouched reserve above my home, which incidentally was also tapu as a burial place of local iwi for many years.

Page 4
 Red-billed gull, tarapunga (Larus novaehollandiae) (Chroicocephalus scopulinus).

The author specifically asked for "a centered rocky headland with a lacy ocean fringe hugging the shoreline, and a series of headlands fading into the distance on each side". I think this worked very well to convey isolation. It is not a portrait of any place in New Zealand - rather it's an imagined view of what part of Aotearoa could have looked like 2000 years ago.

Page 5
 Haasts eagle (Harpagornis moorei - extinct): North Island giant moa (Dinornis novaezealandiae - extinct); NZ swan (Cygnus atratus sumnerensis - extinct); NZ stiff-tailed duck (Oxyura vantetsi - extinct); Australasian harrier hawk, kahu (Circus approximans) to scale with the eagle.

I used the setting of one of my existing landscape paintings for the distant background in this illustration because I've always thought how well it conveys the feel of primeval wilderness.

Page 6
 Australasian bittern, matuku (Botaurus poiciloptilus); NZ kingfisher, kotare (Halcyon sancta vagans); Weka, NZ Woodhen (Gallirallus australis); NZ Banded rail, moho-pereru (Rallus philippensis); NZ giant bush dragonfly, kapokapowai (Uropetala carovei); NZ praying mantis, ro (Orthodera novaezealandiae).
 Raupo, bullrush (Typha orientalis); NZ Flax, harakeke; Manuka, NZ tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium).

Location is the Waioeka Flats, with the Waioeka River flowing through, thanks to help with topography from the author.

Page 7
 Saddleback, tieke (Philesturnus carunculatus) Long-tailed Bat, pekapeka (Chalinolobus tuberculatus).
 Five-finger, puahou or whauwhaupaku (Pseudopanax arboreus).

The start of the eruption that formed Lake Taupo. As the eruption begins, birds fly up from the bush in fear, and even the bats sleeping in a hole in the tree trunk are awakened.

Page 8
 North Island Kokako, Blue-wattled crow (Calleas cinerea - endangered); Bellbird, korimako (Anthornis melanura); Tui; Grey warbler, riroriro (Gerygone igata).

This was a wonderful painting to design and do, and it is still one of my favorites.

Page 9
 Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris - extinct); Piopio, NZ thrush (North Island) (Turnagra capensis - extinct); Stitchbird, hihi (Notiomystis cincta - endangered).
 New Zealand Fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata); Supplejack, kareao, Fragrant fern (Microsorum scandens).

The extinction of the Huia is probably the saddest of New Zealand's stories. If there was one species I could bring back, this would be it.

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The Paintings, Artist's Notes and The Shop

Paintings Feb/Sept 2011

Acrylic on board size 15" x 20".
(382 x 510)


Shop Open 2013

Posters, prints and other products.


About Feb/Sept 2011

About the Artist and the story of the Book.