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Courtney Sina Meredith’s next creative journey

Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

No items found.
Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

Courtney Sina Meredith’s next creative journey

Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

No items found.
Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program

Courtney Sina Meredith’s next creative journey

Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.
Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

No items found.
Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program

Courtney Sina Meredith’s next creative journey

Photo / Ralph Brown

As she steps down from her role as director of Pacific arts organisation Tautai, Courtney Sina Meredith speaks to writer (and her mother) Kim Meredith on her legacy - and what comes next.

Outgoing Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust director Courtney Sina Meredith has been the driving force of the organisation for the past four years but the visual arts community has made a lasting impact on her.

The 36-year-old acclaimed poet and writer has been hailed for navigating Tautai through the difficult years of the pandemic lockdowns but most notably for realising the long-held dream of the Moana arts community.

Born the same year Tautai was created in 1986, she led the organisation to finally launching its own gallery. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the Karangahape Road venue in 2020. Yet Meredith has undergone a remarkable transformation, surprising herself by stepping into the space of making art.

Coming out of a series of major surgeries 18 months ago to treat severe endometriosis involved a lengthy recovery; it gave the Auckland creative time to pause and reflect. “It took a good 12 months to heal, to retrain different parts of my body, 2021 was a difficult year, physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Wanting to reciprocate with family and friends who provided ongoing support, she planned to write poems for them except there was an urge to make something. “I really wanted to make things with my hands.”

She and partner, renowned visual artist Janet Lilo, had recently moved to accommodate three growing sons. Empty cardboard boxes were peppered throughout the new house; multi-coloured pencil sharpenings in the garage studio caught her eye. 

“Janet loves to draw, there were all these different colours of sharpenings from a series she’d been working on, internal landscapes she was bringing to life. I see the cardboard, I see the sharpenings…”

She fashioned a small piece of cardboard into a square, like a small house, cutting out a window before painting the entire piece with white gesso (surface primer). The pencil sharpenings were then layered over the paint. “It was like looking into a tiny white house… this tiny artwork.  I told Janet I’m so sorry because of the housing crisis and being in the arts, I can’t actually buy you a house right now, but I made you one.”

Lilo’s effusive reaction was the impetus that drew her into the world of making art; just as Meredith’s body was slowly healing, she found herself propelled from the mode of thinking toward the visual medium of making. 

“We were in New Lynn and I noticed all this Harakeke, I had to jump out of the car because I was thinking how I could use it and I remember Janet asking me ‘are you seeing all this now?’”

She describes inhabiting the world through the inner workings of a writer. “I was like; yes I can see things I never used to. I’ve been in a very internal process as a writer, I think a lot of things but I don’t see a lot of things unless it’s intentional.”

Becoming a maker has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s very hard to start calling yourself a maker, an artist. Those terms are loaded; they come with a particular education, a particular community. Almost like assigning a value to yourself, you always have to wait for someone else to say you’re an artist. 

“Thankfully, I live with an artist who doesn’t think that way. Janet really loved what I was doing - it was like I was this big bonfire and she just kept throwing all these different types of wood to see what I would burn through, or what would power me up.”

The world literally changed before her eyes, small things coming into sharp focus; she recalls dealing to weeds sprouting through the deck only to notice the colours and shapes of the wildflowers, later drying and incorporating them into her paintings.

“It’s difficult when you’ve trained yourself to be a certain sort of creative, you think that your creativity can only extend so far, when you start to think about the gesso of your creativity - the thing that is underneath, you realise it's just an energy and it can move into anywhere you’re brave enough to allow it to.”

Some of Courtney's recent work. Photo / Ralph Brown

Her partner suggested a new direction, applying resin to coat the flowers she’d collected and making them into jewellery.

“Being in a yucky space, and to have a partner who is a master artist, who could see that I was really hurting… where I kind of needed something to pull me back to the surface. Janet just kept coming back everyday with little offerings for me.”

The result is an impressive range of one-off pieces - rings, earrings, and bracelets showcasing the wonder and beauty of nature, each a unique poem in three-dimensional form, imbued with her world.  

Meredith is elated by the progress Moana creatives continue to make both within Aotearoa New Zealand and on the world stage; Tautai exhibiting artists and curators such as Natasha Matila-Smith, Telly Tuita, Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows, Christopher Ulutupu, and Tui Emma Gillies are testament to this.

As she prepares to pass over the reins at Tautai, with her last day on July 1, Meredith leaves knowing her job is complete, the organisation financially secured to 2026. “My leadership has always been ancestor-led, there are many spaces where leadership is needed for Tagata Moana.” She looks to the future confidently knowing the ancestors will again lead her to where she is needed most, just as they have done before.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.