Creatively Capturing Moments
She Once Said So
Herstory project by Photographer Sara Orme. Co-founder of Girl Undiscovered Skincare

Te Teko (2009- ) is part of an on-going work referencing my whanau (family) and our tangata whenua (people of the land),  in the small, predominantly Maori populated town of the same name in Aotearoa New Zealand.  A personal series, which began soon after the death of my father some 12 years ago, is rooted in my exploration of our tipuna, (ancestors) whakapapa (genealogy) and the takaoraoratanga (conflict) my father and the generations before us faced.  

Continuing this korero (conversation) through my photographs has become essential to my work. It’s important for these stories to be shared and understood. 

 

Te Teko is a powerful community and symbolic of indigenous cultures universally who continue to struggle with loss and hope from the aftermath of historic land theft.

 

This project draws strongly on the complexity of colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, The Raupatu, (land theft) consequences of dislocation and assumes norms that are referenced from history, memory, whenua  (land) and my own relationship with whanau (family) and Te Teko today.

 

I continue to learn about my tupuna (ancestors) as I reflect the life around me and the world I grew up in as  a Pakeha Maori, wahine (woman).

 

The whenua (land) is the life force of the Ngati Awa People. For a people whose land is both spiritual and functional, the lingering impact and consequences of colonial land confiscation are still so visible and felt today, over 150 years later.

 

By understanding the past we can understand the present and look towards a future with progressive ideals.

She Once Said So (2017 - ) Herstories being visible. 

Herstory, although widely used now, was prompted by one of my feminist slogan stickers positioned loudly on my diary in 1985. I was also in the first intake of feminist studies at Canterbury university, Aotearoa New Zealand. We were sick of History.  He was everywhere. The he's who were given a voice for many a thought and many an action.

.Herstory gives voice to those of us in between. Those of us who would like to be heard, even if quietly, as we move through uncharted territory.

Ko au te awa-Darling (I am the River)
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Ko te awa ko au -I am the river and the river is me. 

 

The awa (river) is a toanga (treasure) towards identity and is the mauri (life force) of  my people, Maori, the indignous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our awa is the life giver of all things. It is water in its purest form and has the power to give life, sustain wellbeing and counteract evil.

 

Ko Toku Awa- is part of an ongoing project exploring the spiritual connection with whenua (land), tupuna(ancestors) and wairua (spirit). Ko Toku Awa draws strongly on the complexity of colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, The Raupatu, (land theft) consequences of dislocation and assumes norms that are referenced from history, memory, whenua (land) and moko kauae (chin tatoo representing ancestors and whanau (family).

 

Darling embraces her own mana motuhake (self determination). “I submit and let my awa swallow me. Through that comes my real power. I can forget about the cancer growing inside me. My awa makes me feel free. My wiarua (spirit) is orbiting out of me as I am lost in my own journey, my vulnerability, my broken, my happy, my free,  my everything, my whole tangata whenua (people of the land). This is my space. The awa always takes away my heavies. My awa forgives me”

This is Not The Red Carpet
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This Is Not The Red Carpet (1993) 

I observed this phenomenon during the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 in disbelief. The unequal power relationship between men and women on full display in broad daylight was a microcosm of the wider world. The dominant culture was still clearly deaf to the cries of Feminism.

 

I returned in 1993, a pregnant young mother, determined to turn my lens on the male gaze and reclaim some power.

 

The resulting series captured the predatory photographers before, during and after their hunt. Their brazen sense of entitlement on exhibition marks a time and culture that gave rise to the Weinsteins of the world and eventually the Me Too movement. 

 

Ironically, this pioneering project, a response to my immersion in third wave feminism, was quietly sidelined by a society that couldn’t equate motherhood with a career in documentary photography.

 

I lost all confidence and put this work in the bottom draw for almost 30 years..

 

Looking at it today I see it as a historical document of how things were and a reminder of how far we’ve come.  It demands I shake off the equalities of the past, value my worth and fight to give it the life it deserves.

 

Series of 42 images



Stroke
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Responding to the life around her, Orme’s recent project, Stroke (2019) gives light to her seventy nine year old mother, with so much vitality and intelligence, grappling new life after her stroke. Orme’s days were spent at her bedside both wanting the same thing. A good recovery. While a very personal project It sheds light on an often ignored generation and the profound effects of illness as we age.