Bold innovator inspired by her Māori and Chinese ancestry

By Te Ao - Māori News
Jaime Kapa (Tainui).  Photo / Supplied

A unique typeface inspired by her Māori and Chinese heritage and beloved kuia has seen Jaime Kapa (Tainui) awarded the Bold Innovators scholarship.

The Master of Creative Practice (MCP) student at Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka Unitec Institute of Technology joins previous recipients, Reagan Laidlaw, Tuputau Lelaulu and Atarangi Anderson.

“Our whakapapa, the life-world of my maternal Grandmother, whose parents were Māori and Chinese, as well as our marae, are key sources of discovery, inspiration and influence in the typographic design process,” said Jaime.

Jaime’s typographical poster series exhibition gave many people, including her proud whānau, an opportunity to see the outcome of her efforts, which she described as ”my hybrid space between Māori and Pākehā.”

“It’s the Māori visual form that is most dominant for me. This balance may not accurately reflect reality as it is but it reflects a world that I hope can be realised in Aotearoa.  It’s about how language and people inhabit the land and occupy space.”

Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Head of the School of Creative Industries, acknowledged the long wait for Jaime to receive her scholarship in a year disrupted by Covid-19 lockdowns.  “Good things take time, the school is very privileged to have students like Jaime.

“Her work demonstrates how the power of ink can reclaim the lost art of typography, and use its unique form to imprint on the mind and soul with impact.”

William Bardebes, one of Jaime’s supervisors on her Master's project, paid tribute to her commitment and dedication over a two-and-a-half-year journey. “You have a purpose so important, you’ve defined a form that speaks to hapū and iwi in a cyclone of letter-based excellence," he said.

“You’ve created a lifelong journey, an authentic way for people to have a voice that was traditionally oral and is now on paper.”

The potential for the growth of the concept will now be maximised with the ongoing support that the $12,000 scholarship offers – which Jaime is hoping will ultimately lead to the establishment of a type foundry in Auckland to develop unique Aotearoa typefaces.

“Establishing a type foundry will encourage other design creatives to learn the lost art of typography, and help give our ever-evolving history and culture typefaces which we can all identify with,” she said.