Kia ora koutou, hello everyone.
I had my injury many years ago in 1985, which left me a C4 Tetraplegia. It was a freak accident one month after leaving school at the age of 15. I had just left school to find work so I could contribute to our household expenses being only my Mum and I at home. Mum has been deaf, hearing impaired, all her life.
While in hospital at the Otara Spinal Unit in Auckland, I was introduced to a mouth artist named ALEX GRAIG, a full member of the MFPA, who saw a portrait painting I’d done just using student black paint on normal paper, while in the O.T room as a mouth activity. Lynda, the O.T., encouraged me to do some painting. My picture featured pretty basic facial features, but it was enough for Alex to ask me to come and do more painting by mouth at an art class in C Block. There were other mouth artists there who were tutored by Mrs Doreen Jones, a wonderful lady aged 70, from South Africa. She saw potential in me and introduced me to the other MFPA artists in the class including Alex, Irene Bernie, Tom Waru and Grant Sharman. With everyone's support and helpful hints, I started attending class. In 1991 I became an MFPA student artist. I will always remember these people.
I am now a 48-year-old Maori of Nga Puhi decent, born in Pukekohe and raised in the Waikato region. I love rugby, softball, swimming, and really liked gathering food from the land, (Whenua, Papatuanuku), such as fresh water crayfish (koura), eeling for eels (Tuna) and collecting fern root (Piko piko), sweet puha, water cress along the creeks and rivers of the bush Tane Mahutu. Also gathering (seafood Kiamoana), fish (IKA), mussels, pipi, oysters and Kina from the sea, (Tangaroa) We did this as a family which explains why I'm still fishing and playing wheelchair football, as well as sailing with Brendon and Tim of Sailability in Auckland. As a mouth painter for the MFPA, it enables me to connect my spirit (Wairua) and beliefs of talking care of the whenua and hopefully this is reflected in my artwork. I can't forget (Te Rangi Papa) the sky and heavens that gives all sunshine and nourishment to all and has a huge influence in my artwork.