Thursday, 23 September 2010

Rei Hamon

Aunty Maia

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.





Kelly Gunn said...

Hi Morg,

What a touching “Things that make my heart sing”…………….The memories of the days we spent down to Thames as little children are such happy ones!
We are truly blessed on both sides of our family with such enormous numbers of relatives, through the good times & bad……

Uncle Rei was an awesome artist, such a treasure to the creative world and the people lucky enough to have met him, owned one of his works or visited his galleries or exhibitions over the years!

If memory serves me correctly Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II even has one of his masterpieces tucked away somewhere in the royal treasures 

In loving memory of Uncle Rei, may your artwork continue to make peoples hearts sing……….

Ox Kell

Amelia Jane Again said...

Amazing family story Morgan - thanks for sharing.

emma said...

what an amazing legacy to bestow upon your family. The artworks look beautiful. I have many many drawings done by my Dad, life drawing classes and scribbles and doodles. I can't wait for our reno to finish so that I can rescue them from storage! Lovely to read your blog.

kiwibeeper said...

Uncle Rei's art makes my heart sing, too. My dad is his younger brother. Since I have lived all my life in Canada, I only had opportunity to visit Uncle Rei and Auntie Maia's home once and it's a memory I will always treasure.
What a treat to find your blog!
If you haven't already seen it, check out , a website set up with Uncle Rei's and Awanui's art.