Moana Whatu: An ambassador for Intentional Creativity® in the Pacific
“I hold great admiration and love for my culture as well as all indigenous cultures because of the deep desire to be intrinsically connected with our earth and cosmos.” ~ Moana
Moana Whatu is an Intentional Creativity® Teacher and Red Thread Guide. Creativity has been ever-present in her life in different ways and in 2017 she answered to her soul’s call to embrace being an artist. Moana is an intuitive artist who weaves dreams and channeled messages into her paintings. Hailing from New Zealand and having lived in Australia for many years, Moana has decades of experience in social work and working within different cultural contexts. Moana is sharing her wisdom on how she brings Intentional Creativity to individuals and groups in diverse populations.
Q&A Interview with Moana
(Note: Maori words; in italics; are used throughout the article with translations in brackets after first use of the word)
Moana, as an Intentional Creativity Teacher based in the Southern Hemisphere; our community would love to hear your origin story.
I was born and raised in a beautiful place called Aotearoa – Land of the long white cloud, New Zealand.
Ko Tainui me Te Arawa nga Waka, Tainui and Te Arawa are the names of the canoes my ancestors come from Hawaiikinui on
Ko Pirongia me Nongotaha nga maunga, Pirongia and Nongotaha are the names of my ancestor mountains
Ko Waikato me Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe, these are the names of my ancestor rivers and lakes
Ko Waikato me Te Arawa nga iwi, Waikato and Te Arawa are the people I descend from
Kia ora, my name is Moana. I’ve been living in Queensland Australia now since 2010 and I’ve been living in Kabi Kabi land, Sunshine Coast, though recently I’ve moved to Jinibara land. I pay my respects to our first nations to ancestors here and give my gratitude for allowing me to live and work here.
Tree woman workshop
Describe your journey leading to Intentional Creativity®
At the end of 2017, I awoke with an epiphany that creativity was missing from my life. Prior to this I had been moving and going through a range of lifetime of changes and transitions. I have always loved being creative and dreamed of calling myself an artist. Of course, I knew I couldn’t be – I had never taken a creative course let alone, a drawing or painting class. I admired anyone who could paint.
I recall after my dearest cousin lost her children to suicide watching helplessly as she grieved the unbearable grief. I saw an image; a black and white image of people all around her; whilst she stood in red in the middle of the busy-ness of life. I longed to paint that vision but never did.
It was during one of those life changing transitions that I once again explored “What do I want to do with myself?” Something was missing but what was it? And like an exploding fireworks display in the night sky, I had my epiphany, I needed creativity!
I began researching what type of creativity I craved. In early 2018 I found Shiloh Sophia. She asked, “What was it I wanted to leave to the world? What medicine did I bring? Did I want to share with others?” YES! I thought this is the creativity I am craving.
Why do you think it’s important to include creativity as a key part of your life?
Dreams are important. Sometimes their purpose is functional, to help us process the day, and at other times they are portals for receiving information. I have learned to pay more attention to my dreams. “Come out of the water and take your breath” was one of the key messages I received. I’ve always been present to creating: Tiling; photography; making my own jewelry. It’s important to love and enjoy what you do – really be in love with your life. That is the essence of aroha (love).
Since commencing on the Intentional Creativity® journey, my awareness of my own intuition and wairua, (spirit dimension/soul), have a way to be expressed. I call myself an intuitive artist. I interpret my dreams and intuitive messages into my paintings. I wholly believe that the vibration of love and my connection with my Creator is imbued into my art.
How do you express and offer Intentional Creativity® in alignment with your cultural context?
I am a woman, I am a mum and best of all I am a grandmother to 9 grandchildren, who are my legacy and who I call my earthly Muses. They all love to paint and create. My whanau (family) are my backbone in this world and my teachers. I draw from my life and from my wairua; the relationship with my soul and my creator, my connection to Aotearoa, my ancestors, nature and Intentional Creativity® processes as taught by Shiloh Sophia. I fuse these with my experience and knowledge from life as a Maori lesbian woman and as a professional in the social services for over 20 years. I hold great admiration and love for my culture as well as all indigenous cultures because of the deep desire to be intrinsically connected with our earth and cosmos.
IC workshop with two of my grandchildren age 6 and 7
Maori women are strong and growing in strength. There is a resurgence in reclaiming moko kauae (facial tattoo honouring one’s genealogy and ancestry), which was not permitted during colonization. This resurgence of reclaiming our highest authenticity is what underpins my approach. Cultivating the ability to listen deeply. Whanau (family), Mauri (life force), Aroha (love) are a few of the principles that underpin Intentional Creativity®. Honoring our whakapapa (genealogy of all living beings) and our IC lineage is very important to me. I plan to have our IC lineage on my wall alongside my own lineage, so others can see all my teachers.
portion of artwork private commission
Can you impart your wisdom about sharing Intentional Creativity® within a cultural context?
There’s a saying in Maori “He kokonga whare e kitea, he kokonga ngākau e kore e kitea.” Which means “A corner of a house may be seen and examined but not so the corners of the heart.” Speaking about those things in the corners of our heart takes courage. I hold a masters degree in Social work, Post graduate in Child adolescent mental health. I’ve worked and studied from cultural and bicultural perspectives. I’ve worked with men and women; young and old as well as many Maori and Pacific island people. I’ve found there are shared intrinsic values in that everyone understands the importance of whanaungatanga, (the act of being in relationship with each other like family). Simply put, this means how we bring mana (combination of presence, charisma, prestige, honor, and spiritual power) and esteem to that understanding. I try to find language and metaphor to help tell and share the stories. I guess I will always have a heart for indigenising the spaces I move around in. Oh and have a sense of humour! Please laugh, cry if need be and laugh again! There is medicine in it all!
Learn how to have courageous conversations. Start with yourself. Intentional Creativity® helps us work through our stuff so we have space and capacity to hear another person. If we’re full of noise, there’s no room for growth or new learning. With those I work with, I encourage them to consider: What do you really want to say? Be open and willing, vulnerability can be your superpower when you hold your own wairua and soul with aroha.
Hold the intention; the essence or mauri; within yourself, so you can help others hold theirs too.
Depending on the relationship and the context, I check my own biases, limitations and emotional triggers. Sometimes the key is not getting rattled by other people’s perspectives, it takes courage to have those types of conversations. I’m sure many of us want the best for people however we need to know our limitations. Allowing a person to feel uncomfortable – that’s a big learning.
Be vigilant about cultural appropriation and when it’s happening. Something I’ve become more aware of throughout my journey. Maybe there is more blending now and we’re navigating this new terrain whilst old ways of thinking are still alive. During NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week in Australia, I led an intentional painting workshop. We honoured the Maroodydore river through creativity and painting stories that represented and honoured Her. If I took specific symbols pertaining to our local indigenous people and presented these as mine, without permission – now that would be cultural appropriation.
Maori people use the concept and word “Kaitiakitanga” which means guardianship. Maori people view themselves as guardians of Aotearoa (New Zealand) which means they willingly share the land whilst honouring its preservation. This concept welcomes sharing of resources, honors ancestry and fosters community. These values overlap with those upheld in the Intentional Creativity® movement.
Research your personal cultural connections. Celebrate all of you! Bring it, share it, teach it! Honouring our first nations community in all that we do is absolutely important and present in our Musea lineage and I really love that.
Tree woman workshop
Artwork for sale at Jassy Watson’s studio
Current projects and intentions
My focus has been my art and developing myself as an artist so I can serve those I work alongside, whoever they may be. I have been selling artworks throughout 2020 so I can buy more resources. I commenced doing what I have named “Oracle Art” with the encouragement of Gisela (another amazing sister in the Musea Guild). These are channelled energy paintings that I create for people around the world. I work intensely managing a team of therapists so my Intentional Creativity® offerings have been in-person 1:1 coaching and small group workshops. Although I am always developing workshop ideas, (even when I’m in work meetings ha!) I am currently in the process of developing a Legend painting course with a Maori flavour of course. I’m always looking at other ways to include Red Thread and Intentional Creativity daily with others (I may need to consider embracing the online world!) Currently I’m participating in the Musea Ritual course, which is so juicy! I’m also heavily involved with our Australian and New Zealand sisters, in any way I can; I just love our sisterhood down under! We are bloody awesome! Giving back and supporting others; our community; that makes me heart happy. I am passionate about Intentional Creativity® and the medicine paintings that we do – this is truly healing work with lots of aroha!
Red thread ceremony for a family wedding
Can you share your ongoing intention of your work as an artist?
I want my paintings to move and inspire people and for love to be at the centre of all I do. I want to show people of all ages how they can live a life that is intentional and creative. I wish to thank Shiloh and Jonathan, the Musea team and our amazing community – my life is better for having you in it. Mauri ora whanau, kia kaha, be well family and stay strong, arohanui x
You can connect with Moana via her social media links
Chatelle is a Musea Co-Curator. She grew up in New Zealand, has traversed many lands and now lives in Portugal. An Intentional Creativity® Coach, Chatelle actively supports the Musea member community as a Member Coordinator.