Huhana Smith (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Raukawa), artist/painter, academic and environmentalist

Huhana was born in Australia and moved to New Zealand in 1993. Her interest in the environment began soon afterwards.

The Land

Iwi elders talked to her about the local lands and waterways, and how people used to catch eels and whitebait together. "But they didn't see this any longer," Huhana says. "All they could see was the decline in the environment."

New Zealand waterways have over the years suffered tremendous damage due to short sighted farming practices and over a century of wetland drainage. Damning reports on the current state of some of our major rivers completely destroy the myth that  New Zealand is "clean and green".

This reality encouraged Huhana and her iwi to begin work revegetating their local wetlands. The work then formalised and became a Trust through which she and her partner, along with other trust members, spend their weekends clearing, re-planting the land, assessing water systems and sharing their knowledge so that the work will continue and spread.

Te Papa Tongarewa The Museum of New Zealand

Huhana was the Senior Curator Maori at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa up until December 2009 and sees both environmental and museum work as interrelated.

"At Te Papa I deal with taonga [Maori or ancestral treasures] so I'm right in the middle of all the concepts and expressions of Maori and what they value most. What we have here at the museum is a visual embodiment of what is on the land."

Doctorate Thesis: Hei Whenua Ora

Huhana recently completed her doctorate thesis: Hei Whenua Ora: Hapū and iwi approaches for reinstating valued ecosystems within cultural landscape.