Jean | Mangatangi

“I last felt inspired yesterday. I was hanging out with my friends yesterday, and a lot of them are musicians or artists of some sort, and just yeah vibing off their energy; I felt inspired to do some art today, and so I’m doing some Korowai and doing a Korowai demonstration today.

Nau Mangatangi Marae aho, and Pukekohe is my town and where I do all my missions and do the grind. I grew up in Mangatangi and it’s a little rural community, dairy farming in North Waikato, and it was really idyllic swimming at the creek. A school of only about 70 students, everyone knows each other. I was brought up on the marae. I speak te reo and te reo Māori is really important to me, and so I guess with this like wholesome community upbringing, plus my wholesome marae upbringing, I feel like I live a life of integrity and positivity. I go to church. I volunteer, and I love Pukekohe. I lived in Wellington for several years and then Melbourne, but I came home, because home really is where the heart is, and it’s where my roots are, and so I met a nice Pākehā boy from down the road, and we got married four years ago. Then three years ago we had our daughter, and funnily enough he’s a chicken farmer, and I’m a chicken farmer’s wife, and I’m a Playcentre mum, and I do Māori art, and I’m a kept woman, so I’m not really working. But yeah, just positive, wholesome, simple life and it’s good.

I went down to Wellington after high school. I did high school here in Pukekohe, went down to Wellington to do uni, I studied for a bachelor of music in jazz performance on the drum kit; the most irrelevant degree in the world. It does not get you any jobs. But there [Wellington] I call it the kumara vine; is where I met all of my musician friends, including Warren Maxwell and Rio Hemopo, and they’re of the band Trinity Roots, and they asked me if I could play drums for them. So I played drums for them for two years, and after that I went to Melbourne and tried to make it as a jazz musician in Melbourne, but that didn’t work either. I still keep in contact with my friends heaps, and I feel like music and making art is my passion and my hobby I guess. But really it’s like home and connections and relationships and wholesome living and stuff is really what I love, and so that’s why I come home. I call it my #formerlife, being a muso, and now I’m #mumlife, but catching up with them is still still real beautiful in that we all share the same sense of wanting to be creative and help people through our creativity and give back to the community through our creativity and making art, making music.

The art that I love to do is making Korowai, or traditional Māori cloak, and I find it very therapeutic and meditating. In a way it’s being able to give back, like the Korowai I’m making now for a Playcentre, for a deputy principal that’s leaving, and so it’s a way of sharing Te Ao Māori, with the community but I can still be able to do what I love doing in creating art. So it’s good.”

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