My Grandmother on my father’s side (fondly known as Nanny Kuia – meaning ‘old woman’ in Maori) was the youngest of 19 children. My father was born on a kitchen table in a small village called ‘Tiki Tiki’ on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. As a family we belong to the Ngati Porou tribe the second largest tribe in New Zealand and thanks to this heritage – I have one very very big family!
Uncle Rei – or Rei Hamon was married to my Nanny Kuia’s sister - Aunty Maia. Nanny Kuia and Aunty Maia are the only two children still alive out of the 19 that were born to my Great Grandparents.
As a young girl – I absolutely LOVED visiting my Uncle Rei and Aunty Maia – they were always so welcoming and full of snuggles and cuddles. I was also fascinated by my Uncle Rei’s Gallery and all of his amazing drawings inspired by the New Zealand bush.
|Rei Hamon (Uncle Rei)|
The story goes that Uncle Rei discovered his talent for drawing while recovering from a crippling farm accident which left him almost paralyzed. In 1965, with a family to feed and bills to pay, he and Aunty Maia prayed for a solution. Upon rising from his knees he picked up a ballpoint pen and pad that had been left behind by his youngest daughter and began to draw - something he hadn't done since his early days in primary school. It was an inspired beginning. Over his lifetime (Born 17 Dec 1919 - Passed 16 Aug 2008 Aged 89 years) Uncle Rei had huge success with his distinctive style of dot art (Pointillism).
With much practice he developed the unique and unorthodox style called Pointillism, a drawing made up of millions of tiny dots. Feeling a little embarrassed with his first works, Uncle Rei cautiously hid them from view but Aunty Maia, found them and showed them to a local photographer who took them to the Director of a leading Art Gallery in Auckland.
Uncle Rei’s first exhibition at New Vision gallery in 1967 stunned the art world. His self-taught pointillist style of high detail and emotion propelled him into a house-hold name. He used his unique art to stop the destructive Forestry Kauri milling of the early 70’s by creating awareness around the beauty of our natural environment and without Uncle Rei and his brother’s protests and lobbying in this area, places such as the Coromandel in New Zealand would be void of Kauri and Pohutukawa trees for future generations to enjoy.
In 1981 Uncle Rei was titled as a ‘Commander of the British Empire’ and remains a New Zealand national treasure.
I am lucky enough to have a number of his limited edition lithographs hanging on my walls. Everyday – I am surrounded by the beauty of his talent and I remember what a loving man he was.