Ko au te awa, te awa ko au -I am the river, the river is me.
The awa (river) is a toanga (treasure) towards identity and is the mauri (life force) of my people, Maori, the indignous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our awa is the life giver of all things. It is water in its purest form and has the power to give life, sustain wellbeing and counteract evil.
Ko Toku Awa- is part of an ongoing project exploring the spiritual connection with whenua (land), tupuna(ancestors) and wairua (spirit). Ko Toku Awa draws strongly on the complexity of colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, The Raupatu, (land theft) consequences of dislocation and assumes norms that are referenced from history, memory and whenua (land) and moko kauae (chin tatoo representing ancestors and whanau (family).
Darling embraces her own mana motuhake (self determination). “I submit and let my awa swallow me. Through that comes my real power. I can forget about the cancer growing inside me. My awa makes me feel free. My wiarua (spirit) is orbiting out of me as I am lost in my own journey, my vulnerability, my broken, my happy, my free, my everything, my whole tangata whenua (people of the land). This is my space. The awa always takes away my heavies. My awa forgives me”