Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

I bow my head

Emily Karaka’s Rāhui

The kauri surrounding Otitori Bay Road in Titirangi stand near the edge of Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa, the Waitākere forest, on which Te Kawerau ā Maki placed a protective rāhui in late 2017. Many of the trees are afflicted by the disease known as ‘kauri dieback’. Their golden leaves fall on the paths that lead down from the roadside to McCahon House, the dwelling inhabited by Colin McCahon and his family after they moved to Tāmaki Makaurau in 1953, and Parehuia, the purpose-built house and studio occupied by each McCahon House Artist in Residence. From February to April this year, the position was held by one of Aotearoa’s most highly respected living artists, Emily Karaka.

The McCahon House residency has been of great significance to Karaka, who knew McCahon. In 1979, he attended her first solo exhibition, held at Outreach in Ponsonby, and bought a drawing representing a bush path. Speaking with her at the opening, he offered words of encouragement, maintaining that she would go far. Some years later, Karaka had an unusually potent dream, her first in vivid colour. She recently wrote of it, ‘I was being chased but just as I was about to be caught a large bright lime green island emerged with a stone plinth in the middle of it. I suddenly penetrated the rock; I wasn’t caught.’[1] When she awoke, she felt pregnant—although she was not—and found herself caressing stones. …


Continue reading on the Visions website.

Emily Karaka

29 April to 13 June 2021
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

[1] Emily Karaka, ‘Tangi. Muriwai’, McCahon 100, McCahon House Trust, accessed 19 April 2021,

By Francis McWhannell
Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker


Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is Curatorial Adviser for the dealer gallery Visions, and Curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.