Ron Te Kawa delivers a ‘much needed blast of colour’




Woodville-based artist Ron Te Kawa, whose vibrant quilt, Welcome Home We Love You, is the centerpiece of Mahara Gallery’s 2019 Matariki exhibition, says people need a “blast of colour” at this time of year.


“I’ve always felt surrounded by unconditional love,” he says. “I want to wrap people in that feeling, to help them find their true lovable selves.


“I imagine a person in crisis being wrapped in this blanket, a safe space. That’s pretty much the inspiration and theme of everything I do.”


Director Janet Bayly says Mahara Gallery is privileged to be able to exhibit one of Ron Te Kawa’s quilts.

“They all tell a story and there’s always a connection with the past because his ancestors are never far from him.

Ron’s father bought a $5 sewing machine from a garage sale, taught himself to sew and then taught Ron. That launched a career that’s taken him from Woodville in the Manawatu around New Zealand, to Sydney in Australia, and even a stint across the Tasman with a circus.

He’s now back in Woodville and was recently honoured as ACE Maori Educator of the Year. Janet Bayly says that as well as exhibiting his work, Ron will run workshops on 10 and 11 July during which participants will create a Matariki bird using fabrics.

“Even though I’ve lived most of my adult life alone,” says Ron, “I’ve never been 'lonely'.


“Even if you live far from home or even if you don’t have a home ... the stars will blanket you in light and love and sing with joy at your being.”