In the middle of Lake Rotorua lies an island, a wildlife refuge, the cultural heart of Te Arawa, a community taonga (treasure) ours to share and preserve.
The past is important at Mokoia Island, where once upon a time the maiden Hinemoa swam from the eastern shores of the lake to reach her love, Tutanekai, whose flute playing guided her across the chilly waters and into his embrace one fateful night.
History ensued, and in this present day on Mokoia there lingers memories of the ancestors, such as with Hinemoa’s thermal pool – Wai Kimihia - which warmed the chilled swimmer then, and warms the feet of visitors today.
Conservation of the area’s native bird and indigenous plants species has been a primary concern of the Mokoia Island Trustees for Mokoia, with ongoing restoration efforts adding to the lush, precious balance of life.
For this project, in 2011 selected photographers of varying accomplishment were allowed to visit Mokoia each month, with one task: Find the beauty. All had the opportunity to “get lost” in its natural habitat in order to complete this assignment.
Twenty-six photographers made the journey, and more than 500 images were collected. The twelve selected and exhibited here reflect themes found throughout the seasons. The photographers’ intimacy and personal relationship experienced with Mokoia is offered so the audience can also witness its beauty.
While governed by the Mokoia Island Trust, which represents the four Hapu of Te Arawa that are the beneficial owners, Mokoia Island is a community icon for all to share - through habitat research and conservation work, for visitors to the area interested in birdlife or eco-tours, and for residents to cherish and maintain.
All photographs are for sale and proceeds from this exhibit will be donated to Mokoia Island’s restoration fund.
The exhibition has been put together by Heather Vail and sponsored by Rotorua Civic Arts Trust.
Entry is free to the Bathhouse Cafe to view the images.
Dan Tartaglia 'Waharoa of Tutanekai & Hinemoa'. Dan says he cant help taking photos; 'I've done it all my life; they communicate what I see'.