Hōhua Kurene

Hōhua Kurene

Hōhua Ropate Kurene is a queer indigenous artist whose practice across fashion photography, creative writing and art is steadily gaining recognition. Following an introduction with renowned art collective Fafswag in Christchurch, Hōhua went from studying apiculture in secondary school to moving to Tāmaki Makaurau to become a member of the collective.

From a young age, being in a state of constant flux made Hōhua attuned to the patterns and rhythms of new surroundings. His image-making manifests through sound, as simple as setting a playlist for a road trip, or photoshoot, or taking in the sound of an environment which sets an intention towards the type of image he hopes to capture. From there, he uses creative writing as a tool of reflection and remembering. “Migrating firstly from Porirua to Luatuanu’u in Sāmoa and later to Ōtautahi all before the age of 12. I learned to distinguish their systems from one another, some kind of natural order to things — what the land would give, what the land might need and sometimes what it would take.” 

Te Pō — The clasping of hands — Fa’aSamoa: Le Po (A deep/low frequency clap) a gesture often used as either a sign of respect and to support talanoaga. Activated, this sound can be heard beneath the surface of the water at beach break or the rushing of water against the banks of a river, rather than above or outside of it. Maoritanga: Te Pō — The Night, a time of healing where our vessels are replenished for a new day. We have a practice in Samoa known as Soli, Fofō or Lomilomi (deep tissue massage) — this is a regular practice in our family used for healing and the realigning of our bodies/vessels.

Tauawhi — To embrace (one another) colored image of West coast & East coast seas meeting. Cape Reinga devised from the stories/legends mana whenua of Te-Tai-Tokerau shared with me along various trips throughout the north. A changing tale of two seas one male. One female. The West: fierce, harsh and ominous. The East: tranquil, peaceful and soothing. Always meeting, always embracing in ritual dance and motion. Birthing and nourishing the children of the sea.

The works selected for Euro’s autumn campaign comprise of recent works that reflect the breadth of his practice which includes fashion photography, artistic collaborations and landscape photography. Hōhua’s images of the Waimakariri River were taken on a month-long trip from Tāmaki Makaurau to Ōtautahi before venturing north to Te Tai Tokerau. Captivating images of light rays dancing across ripples highlight the vivid colours of Waimakariri River and build upon the Ngāti Maniapoto whakataukī he used for his travel:

Kia hora te marino,
kia whakapapa pounamu te moana,
kia tere te kārohirohi i mua i tō huarahi

May peace be widespread,
may the sea glisten like greenstone,
and may the shimmer of light guide you on your way.

Collaboration has been a central part of Hōhua’s photographic practice and he has also selected two images from his recent collaborations with promising fashion designers Layplan and artist Natasha Ratuva. The latter image is on display as part of Tautai’s Moana Wall located on East Street in Central Auckland. Consistent across these journeys is the importance of travelling with his family which has brought him into a deep connection with places and endures as a way of building experiences together.

“Inspired by a recent korero with my mother and sisters, I hope to continue learning, exchanging and sharing these stories of connectivity, whakapapa, resilience and light through various mediums. This is how I remember, reconnect and care for the experiences that continue to shape my whanau today.”

Te Awa — slow exposure of relatives Yasmin & Ros in West Auckland wearing ‘Nola’ by Layplan. Inspired by the motion, ribbons and flow of our Awa and Moana — specifically our wairere (waterfall) Hinekakai (also known as Devil’s Punchbowl) named after our ancestress, Hinekakai, a famous weaver. The wife of Turakautahi, as son of Tuahuriri and the principal Kai Tahu chief of his time, who established the Kai Tahu stronghold and Kaiapoi (our family papakainga).

Tane Rore — slow exposure of the Waimakariri river inspired by Tane Rore, personified (Atua) shimmering air/light (heat waves) also the commonly known origins of the haka and the mimic of my favourite bird the “Piwaiwaka/Piwakawaka” (Fantail) and the wiri of it’s tail in flight.

Talofa Lava, Hōhua Ropate Kurene (he/him) is a queer Indigenous artist specialising in photography, multimedia design & creative writing. He is of mixed Samoan, Māori & Afro-European heritage. Originally born in Porirua, Hōhua was raised in his father’s village Luatuanu’u Samoa, and later in his mother’s birthplace Ōtautahi, Aotearoa. Hōhua currently calls Tāmaki Makaurau his home under the guidance of his Arts Aiga the Fafswag Arts Collective and wider Tāmaki Whanau.


Far across the ocean
The soul wakes before the body

Mine stirs long before first crow

And just as the air lives
Mine dances

In breath
In fragrance
In all that is life

In the warm wind that guides
And in trees that speak

Mine is soft, endearing

A travelling prayer
That never settles

Then comes first light
A cutting knife of spectrum

The great separator
Of sea and sky

Mine returns from the night

My flesh an empty glass,
now refracts before it breaks

And I am filled to the brim with

Poem by Hōhua Kurene
Instagram: @hohua
Words by Ane Tonga, Curator Pacific Art, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki