Jen Waterson



I was born in 1970, and grew up in Tataraimaka, Taranaki, next to the Timaru Creamery where my father worked as a cheesemaker.

Bounding the Creamery is the beautiful Timaru River which passes through Tataraimaka from Mount Taranaki. The small awa with its picturesque dam and underbridge rockery became one of my favourite places to spend time and play as a child. Vivid memories and ongoing dreams of the juveniele patu-paiarehe (fairies) and taniwha that would often be at the awa have been a constant. Sometimes I would just sit on the rocks and watch them playing … othertimes I would join in the play – giggling and splashing, magic and glitter.

As an adult I question whether the presence of taniwha and patu-paiarehe were real or simply childhood imagination? Regardless – it doesn’t matter.

The incessant recollection of Tataraimaka through dreams and visions, serendipity and coincidence, drives me to learn more about my Taranaki heritage and pursue my dream of creating Maori visual art.    

My latest series of bronzeworks – a large collection of individually sculpted wheku – pay homage to Tataraimaka. 

Wheku are carved faces found at the apex of a meeting house and are defined by their elongated eyes - each of my wheku represent the awakening of the third eye and the journey of spiritual growth through the ability to see beyond the ordinary visible world.