Posted on November 24, 2021 1:12 PM
Confident, talented and “proud to be a Maori,” Te Kotoko Tanguhao Brown went from being a 12th-grader to a double scholarship winner and enrolled at the Toihukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design in just a few months.
Te Kotuku, a student of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Horouta Wānanga, was awarded the Peggy Ericson Shed and Te Kupenga Scholarship.
Te Kotuku, of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti and Ngāti Porou, submitted a cut for Te Kupenga scholarship and then “kind of forgot about it” before learning she won, along with Latrell Nepe.
Her artwork was picked up by a keen buyer – her mother, Heron Tangohao.
Te Kotuku wasn’t planning on dropping out of school this year until the scholarship’s success, but had it not been for the restrictions in place over the past two years, she might never have applied.
Moving away from the classroom taught Te Kotuku to be independent.
“When we were in lockdown, and we had no teachers there to help me, it gave me the confidence to work for myself. During the lockdown I learned not to rely on anyone and to do it on my own.”
Her mother allowed her to take over the garage so she could focus on Mahi’s business.
“This self-directed learning brought other strengths within her,” Heron said. “I’ve seen other aspects of the discipline come into play. She is very passionate about mahi toi (artwork).
This dedication was tested when Te Kotuku switched from NCEA Level 2 to Level 3 mid-year when she found out she was leaving school early.
It already has most of its Level 3 credits.
Te Kotoko was exposed to Māori (Maturanga Māori) who grew up in Owa Bay/Tulaga and influenced stories and ideas in her art.
“I grew up in Marais and there were all these stories and I wanted to put that into my art. That’s why I love art. I look at the pictures and I see those stories.
“Growing up in Kura Kaupaba Maori, it comes naturally to us. We love hearing our stories and carrying on what our ancestors did. Putting that on canvas or paper made me love art.”
Heron said that knowledge of Maori, religion, and communication is the basis of her daughter’s art.
Brusina Gilvray-Nootima, director of Hurota University, said Te Kotoko was an example for her peers and society alike.
“A respected and hardworking student, she is not only passionate but talented in all artistic media. She makes contributions via kura, her community, and hapu. We are very proud of her.”
The two scholarships will ease the financial burden that accompanies education.
Te Kupenga Scholarship winners receive a year of free study at Toihoukura.
The Peggy Ericson She Shed Scholarship – named in memory of the late She Shed co-founder and artist – is awarded to a young woman who is continuing to study art at the third level and consists of $1,000 and the opportunity to showcase at the annual She Shed Tour (held this weekend).
Serenity Hemaloto-Ngatu, winner of last year’s She Shed scholarship, will join the tour as a shop passenger this Sunday.
“One of the beautiful things about She Shed is the spirit of sharing and we love being able to help start a young artist on her journey,” said Sherrill Scott, organizer of She Shed.
Te Kotoko plans to study architecture after the arts and put her Maori designs on something a little larger than canvas.
Rising Artist: Te Kotuku Tangohau-Brown has won a Peggy Ericson She Shed and Te Kupenga Scholarship and is looking forward to studying at the Toihukura School of Maori Visual Art and Design. Liam Clayton’s photo
Breath of Life: The work of Te Kotoko Tanguhao Brown Scholarship Winner. This is my advice to Hauiti as he pulls the sun out of its abode to catch and embrace the sun offerings of dawn and what lies beyond the horizon. It is the breath of life that we, his descendants, must embrace, in order to advance and continue to search for this horizon.