Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs at Vital Transformations Mauri Ora

Puwai Rangi Papa 2011  – Art-science+environment

Puwai Rangi Papa. This phrase was translated for the artists as “waters of the radiant sun and earth mother” by Taranaki kaumatua (elder) Dr Te Huirangi e Waikerepuru. Te Huirangi introduced this term to the artists on their SCANZ digital art residency that began at the Owae marae (meeting house) on the West coast of New Zealand in January 2011. Taranaki locals themselves suggested to the artists that they make a work around the erosion of the dramatic peak of Mount Taranaki. The ‘Fuji’ shaped mountain dominates the geography and weather system of New Zealand’s North Island. Rock fall and erosion have increased since violent storms have intensified on the west coast to the extent that local inhabitants are now threatened with the loss of their homes. Analysing aerial photographs of water and soil shifts on Taranaki and its waterways, scientists estimate that more than 14 million cubic metres of the mountain have collapsed since the late 1990s. Huge rock falls and debris have caused blockages in waterways, along with floods that send more boulders down the river, widening the banks. The soundtrack of Puwai Rangi-Papa includes the tumbling of stones that keeps residents who live on the edge of Taranaki awake at night. In Maori terms the ‘mauri’ (life-force) of the mountain is being eroded by the changing climate along with its iconic physical form. Quoted from a review by Janine Randerson


Artist Bio

Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs

Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs


Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs are Australian artists whose long term collaboration has produced media art installations situated at the juncture of cinema, information visualisation and sublime landscape. They are passionate about presenting the land and oceans as spectacular living organisms and showing the impact of human intervention on fragile environments.

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