Awarua the taniwha learns to fly #2

Oils on canvas 24″ x 36″. The view is from Colonial Knob just above Porirua City looking north to the Pauatahanui arm – the channel to the sea/Mana Island is in the midleft. The cartoon treatment and colours seemed right for the subject here. This version of Awarua is based on an ancient Maori etching from a rock art shelter at Opihi in South Canterbury with wings from another etching at Manunui (Frenchman”s Gully).

If you haven’t read the story elsewhere in this blog – Awarua O Porirua is a taniwha (in the form of a giant lizard) of Porirua harbour. The young Awarua wanted to be able to migrate with his friends the birds. So, secretly by night, he taught himself to fly.

This painting shows his first public flight with his bird friends – including Rereroa the albatross- cheering him on, but he crashed twice – first into a headland at the north of the harbour, perhaps the red outcrop, and later into Mana Island, taking the top off it.
Awarua later went to Hawkes Bay seeking company but became a nuisance so (2 versions) he was either killed or sent home by Tara, the great warrior who gave his name to Wellington Harbour Te Whanganui-a-tara. In the latter version, he sometimes sits in Porirua Harbour in the shape of rocks and is lonely!!

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