Atea as a concept is about the ‘coming together of ideas’. It is about joining in a shared discourse of ideas while being aware of your unique worldview.
Shand, Rosa. Flora. 2016. PVC, polyester, various flowers.
In my Dress studio I made a wearable garment based on the ‘Lamp Mygdal‘, a lamp which allows plants to grow without natural light. A discussion with Pip, led me to discover a shared love for long lasting flora. This, we agreed, stemmed from both of us having previously lived in areas surrounded by the sea and nature and was a ‘coping mechanism for living in such an urban environment. In Wellington, both of us live in dark, sterile places. For Pip, this was a windowless bedroom and for me this was an inwards facing flat on the bottom floor of the cube. My garment, constructed from PVC and flowers was about the relationship between humans, our increasingly urbanised world and how encounters with nature can impact our collective identity.
As a female designing with another female in mind, gender was inherently an aspect of my work. Whether or not it was consciously considered at the time of its creation is something I am now questioning. At a glance, the garment is very feminine looking, designed and made by a female, for a female and modelled by a female. The piece itself appears female not only through the form but through the use of flowers which are often associated with femininity, growth and fertility. Following Erna Stachl’s lecture and having read the works of Ani Mikaere and Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, my understanding of the intersection of gender and indigeneity has developed. Previously aware of the patriarchal values of Western society, I had not considered the idea of the impact of colonisation of gender roles on Maori women.
Eight minutes away from Mt. Roskill I sit in the mezzanine of a hall awash with over 50 years of conservative tradition. A ‘multicultural’ community sits before me, something I’m aware of thanks to a year eight social studies class on ‘the melting pot’. For years, this was the peak of my enlightenment to the nature of race relations in New Zealand. Beyond the ‘the melting pot’, my understanding of cultural identities in New Zealand stemmed largely from opportunities to join school ‘cultural groups’. Doing so involved performing once at Polyfest and ensuring you had a co-curricular under the ‘cultural’ section of your school report.
An enlightening history department had begun to make up for years of eurocentric education through the thorough teachings of New Zealand history, unravelling the westernised ideologies so prevalent in the institution they work for.
At the end of Maori language week 2015, a member of the senior management team took it upon herself to learn a line of Maori to recite to the school. Somewhat of a performance, she stumbled her way through the phrase, through unfamiliar sounds, ‘daring’ us to learn a phrase ourselves.
Those of us who had begun to understand the whiteness of the institution that had taught us so much, cringed as we watched from the mezzanine. The event was raised as a point of discussion with our history teacher. This token attempt at promoting Maori culture had only served to highlight it’s painful absence from the school culture.
I realised that from the institution which had taught me so much, I had also learned from what it didn’t teach me. While unfamiliar with the term at the time, I realised I had learned the significant part a school has to play in instilling ideologies and teaching you, what it wants to about the world outside its walls.
Cauchi, Ben. Tiki. 2002. Photograph on gold toned paper 380 x 430 mm. Massey University Art Collection, n.p.
Parekowhai, Michael. Kapa Haka (Pakaka). 2004. Automotive paint on fibreglass. Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland.
‘Kapa Haka’, by Michael Parekowhai is a comment on racial stereotypes of Maori in New Zealand. Stereotypes prevalent in this work relate to Melanie Wall’s theory of current stereotypes having evolved from colonial stereotypes. This piece consists of 15 life-size fibre glass models of Parekowhai’s brother. The piece intends to comment on the stereotype of Maori as large, strong and often seen in jobs as security guards or bouncers (Auckland Art Gallery). By portraying this stereotype Parekowhai is playing on Wall’s ‘Natural Athlete’ stereotype stemming from Maori being described in colonial times as ‘savage’. Parekowhai comments on the irony that while in these positions of protection as bouncers or security they are often protecting white wealth while working for minimum wage (Te Ara). By naming this piece ‘Kapa Haka’ it links it back to positive affirmations of Maori culture and ideas of protection, identity and culture (Auckland Art Gallery).
“Kapa Haka (Pakaka).” Auckland Art Gallery. Auckland Council, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2016.
Mark Derby, ‘Māori humour – te whakakata – Māori humour in the 2000s’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.
Higgins, R., & Moorfield, J., (2004). Ngā tikanga o te marae. In Ki te Whaiao: An Introduction to Māori Culture and Society. Auckland: Pearson Education New Zealand Limited, pp.73-74.