Meet our February Huitangaru artist - Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho

Self taught illustrator and designer Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho started freelancing a year ago, working with Auckland Pride, Organise Aotearoa, Pantograph Punch, Production Shed NZ, Purplecon, The Wireless, University of Waikato, and Wellington Palestine.

We appreciate an artist who expresses what they believe in; and this month it’s all about Pride! Huriana designed our weekly posters for February/Huitanguru, as well as a set of limited edition Neck of the Woods stickers. We caught up with Huriana to talk inspiration, political art and nightlife spaces for the queer community.


Kia ora Huriana! A lot of your work feels aimed towards uplifting communities often ignored in mainstream media and art. Has your work always been focused this way?

Āe, I started out doing design work for community and political organisations primarily, and that has really heavily informed my artistic practice. I think art is so important for getting people interested in different ideas and also a really beautiful way to engage people in political discussions that they might not ordinarily take part in. While theory speaks to the minds of people, art speaks to the beating heart of our struggles and can be a vital first step in the process of political engagement.


Which of your projects has been most important to developing your style and kaupapa?

I think every project that I’ve worked on has contributed to my development as an artist, it’s a continual learning process and I’ve had to adapt the way I work depending on the project content or the kind of organisations I’m working for.

If I were to think of specific examples, I guess my work with Auckland Pride and Wellington Palestine have both been important in the development of my artistic style and expression in different ways. Auckland Pride was an interesting project in that the final piece was much simpler than my usual work but I had to come up with ways to create a universal image that a large audience could relate to and Wellington Palestine has allowed me to learn more about an important kaupapa that I didn’t know intimately before I started working with them.


Many of the artists we work with are inspired by music. Can you tell us a bit about the things that influence your work?

First and foremost, I always want to create things that speak to my whakapapa and for the communities that I come from, that’s really the primary motivation/influence that drives my mahi.

My māmā is also a major influence in everything that I do. She was the one who taught me about the importance of storytelling, and of always and unapologetically being myself and creating work that reflects that.

Political struggle obviously plays a huge role in influencing the things that I make and lastly, so many of my friends make beautiful things, whether that be music, writing or visual art and they are inspirations in everything that I do.


  What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Auckland?

I don’t really tend to go out that much but the most recent event that I went to was the Loud and Proud queer music festival at Audio Foundation, I really loved being around other queer creatives and I’d love to see more events like that in future.


And lastly, what's on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now?

Can I Sleep in Your Brain - Ezra Furman

Mindful - K. Michelle


Be Your Girl - Teedra Moses

Mala Fruta - Ceci G

Tyler - Col3trane

The Jump Off - Lil’ Kim

Pussy Is God - King Princess

F Q-C #7 - Willow

Honey - Kehlani

On the Regular - Shamir

To Zion - Lauryn Hill

Screwed - Janelle Monae

Ladies First - Queen Latifah & Monie Love

Worship - Lizzo

Brujas - Princess Nokia

Crop That Back - Coco Solid

Rhymes to the East - Sampa the Great

Figures - Jessie Reyez

$on of a Queen - Melodownz

Vice City - Biig Piig

Shut Me Down - Haute

Where’s My Love - SYML

Soul Free - JessB

Dynamite - Sigrid

Cold War - Cautious Clay

Dancefloor Baby - Baby Zionov

Follow Huriana on Instagram