Aringa Kava Kava 
(Face of the Kava Kava statue) 

Artist: Yoyo Tuki 
Media: hand draw and digital media 
Year: 2012 

This piece was originally hand drawn and then enhanced with Graphic Design software (Adobe Photoshop). Through the combination of both traditional and modern (hand and computer) I was able to achieve the final image.  As you can see, the piece is composed by many shapes and elements with the idea of putting these together to represent a concept, image or idea in a similiar way as surrealism do. By joining all these ancient Rapa Nui symbols and abstract shapes to represent the face of the Moai Kava Kava, which is a well known ancient Rapa Nui carving.  This sort of style or technique is quite common in my art and you will see it applied throughout many of my creations. The Moai Kava Kava can definitively hold the tittle of one of the most difficult and complex pieces to replicate amongst the wide range of traditional Rapa Nui carvings and it will without a doubt challenge the skills of those who dare call them master carvers. 

The Moai Kava Kava is the representation of a Aku Aku (evil spirit being), thus it’s skeletal and unpleasant look.  According to the legend King Tu’u Koihu (one of the greatest master carvers of the ancient times) was in his way back home through the middle of the island on a warm starry night. As he approached the area of Puna Pau (which is well known by the Rapa Nui people for being a place of bad spirits), he devised 2 human like shapes lying near the bottom of the hill. Curios, he came closer to these 2 human like beings. As he approached them he realised that they had no flesh in their bodies, but only bare bones. Both this beings were sleeping at the bottom of the hill unaware of the King’s presence and discovery. The names of these 2 Aku Aku were Hitirau and Nuku Te Mango. The king knew these were not human beings and judging by their look, they were most likely malign. The Ariki (King) pretended to have seen nothing and kept walking towards home. A third spirit witnessed the situation and woke up Hitirau and Nuku Te Mango to inform them of the King’s sighting.  Alarmed that the king might have seen them and the potential of him telling everyone of their existence, the spirits decided to follow Tu’u Koihu and find out. 

Aku Aku’s have the ability to shape shift, so they disguised as a child, as an older person and may other personalities, each and every time they asked the King the same question; Ohh King, did you see anything unusual in your way home tonight? and they received the same answer: No! just the warm breeze and beautiful starry skies tonight. After several attempts, they they gave up, although they followed the King all the way home and sat out of his house. They watched his movements  for days and listened to his conversations in case he would mention something.  Tu’u Koihu was a clever man, he kept his secreat secret safe. Hitirau and Nuku Te Mango were certain that he didn’t see anything so they left. 

Knowing it was safe, Tu’u Koihu proceeded to lock himself in his home / workshop and carved in wood the shocking image of these Aku Aku. It was the birth of the well known Kava Kava statue in Rapa Nui.