Colin McCahon was teaching painting and Anne McCahon attended pottery classes at Outreach on the Corner of Karangahape and Ponsonby Roads, Central Auckland, where I had my studio in one of the old police cells at the rear of the property. Anne and Colin came to my first solo exhibition in the gallery upstairs. Colin stood in front of my work In the Mixing Bowl and said he particularly liked the cadmium yellow background, that I showed skill, and could make a career in painting.
The McCahon’s had moved from Titirangi to live on Crummer Rd around the corner from Tony Fomison, who lived on Chamberlin Street, Grey Lynn. Alan Maddox lived on Waima Street, Arch Hill, and Phil Clairmont lived on George Street, Kingsland. Residing in and around the same inner city vicinity, I was extremely privileged in the late 1970s and 1980s to have shared the company, professional support and encouragement of these local artists, whom I considered to be New Zealand’s finest painters.
I once visited Colin to tell him about a dream, my first in vivid colour. I told him: in my dream I was being chased but just as I was about to be caught a large bright lime green island emerged with a stone plinth in the middle of it. I suddenly penetrated the rock; I wasn’t caught. I had been left perplexed, feeling I was pregnant when I wasn’t. I had started to rub the stones like babies. Having got the courage up to ask about the dream I showed Colin my black and white pencil drawings, which looked like circle landscapes with Stonehenge plinths with alter-like tops. Colin McCahon, forever the seer, spoke intuitively and said...“Tell No One. They Will Throw Stones.”After being put at ease, I painted The Treaties which is in the Te Papa Gallery’s National Collection.
When I last saw Colin in the supermarket carpark at the Grey Lynn end of Williamson Ave, I had thought it was odd Anne wasn’t out walking with him as usual. He came over to where I was sitting in my car and held my right hand resting on the door frame. He cried for some time and when he stopped…he gave an enigmatic smile, said goodbye, then turned and walked away.
The day in 1987 when Colin McCahon’s tangi was held, I travelled to Ruatoria with my brothers band ‘Herbs’ to launch the album Sensitive to a Smile. As we drove through the roads and hills and valleys past mountains and rivers, I looked out the window and up at floating clouds with tears silently falling, like a tap that couldn’t stop...I had lost my dear friend and confidante.
Colin McCahon the benevolent painter, left an alphabet of artistic achievement in a substantial body of work which is astute and articulate; bold and beautiful, crucial and concise, dedicated and daunting, exalted and exquisite, fabulous and fascinating, great and gorgeous, heavenly and honourable, intuitive and indelible, judicious and joyous, kind and knowledgeable, lofty and lavish, majestic and memorable, necessary and nonpareil, omnipotent and opulent, principled and profound, quintessential and questioning, radiant and real, sumptuous and supreme, tremendous and triumphant, unique and unrivalled, vast and visionary, watchful and wonderful, and youthful painted with zest and zeal and an enduring LOVE FOR LAND AND LIFE...
Justin Paton in McCahon Country writes: ‘Wonderfully, he also provides us with an on-the-ground guide — a pair of maps ([Oaia sits and nibbles the sea] and [Moby Dick is (was) a Volcano)...’ These maps are essential documents for anyone wanting to explore Muriwai ‘with’ McCahon. There’s the cave, the island, the fishing rock, the basalt slabs, the lifebelt, the long curve of the beach once journeyed by Rakataura, who in Te Kawerau a Maki tradition, named it ‘Te One Rangatira’ the Chiefly beach…so coincidentally…a strange synergy for those that see…
The last time I saw Phil Clairmont he had a bandage on his ankle. He told me he’d been walking along the beach at Muriwai when a Stingray jumped out of the water and stung him. The day of his funeral in 1984 Phil’s old friend, Norman Te Whata, and I went to the Cave at Muriwai. We both swear we saw a soft emerald green eye form in the water and slowly slide out from the cave in the ripples, then out to sea.
Colin McCahon asked to be in a darkend room when he died. Colin McCahon's 1972 painting Tangi. Muriwai is a masterpiece. It captures the night and embodies the spirit and wairua of spirits passing through...along Te One Rangatira. In TANGI at Muriwai, I think he is in the cave or in the floating dark NIGHT SKY, kei TE PO-nui - already in his cherished well deserved rest with kindred spirits, including his friend James K. Baxter, who passed in 1972, both glistening pure gold and mellow magenta, depicted in the waves…heading to Te Reinga.
 Paton, McCahon Country. Auckland: Penguin, 171.