Wairata Tahana -Te Teko- is part of an on-going work referencing my whanau in the small, predominantly maori populated town of the same name. A personal series, which began soon after the death of my father some 12 years ago, is rooted in my exploration of tipuna, whakapapa and the takaoraoratanga my father and the generations before us faced.
Wairata Tahana references both our heritage as Ngati Awa wahine and descendants of Kahupake and is a reminder that in 1865 on the the banks of this very river, our awa The Rangiaitaki, 100,000 hectares of Ngāti Awa land was stolen by the Crown leaving Maori landless, resources destroyed and leaving an entire people culturally and spiritually impoverished. Continuing this korero through my photographs has become essential to my work. It’s important for these stories to be shared and understood. I want this work to ignite more than a drive through experience of a small town in Aotearoa and only witness the visible impoverishment. Understanding history is essential to understanding the contemporary world.
Te Teko draws strongly on the complexity of colonialism in Aotearoa, The Raupatu, consequences of dislocation and assumes norms that are referenced from history, memory, whenua and my own relationship with Te Teko today. I am a visual sociologist researching and surveying these experiences in my photographs.
By understanding the past we can understand the present and look towards a future with progressive ideals.
To quote historian Vincent O’Malley; “It’s about taking ownership of our history, binding us together as a nation that can honestly confront its own past. We need to own this history. Doing that is not intended to sow the seeds of division or disharmony. It's the basis for genuine reconciliation”
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