Ka Mau Te Wehi – Conversations in Māori Dance
Curated by Moana Nepia
4 June 2009 - 20 June 2009
Ka Mau te Wehi – conversations in Māori dance (installation view), 2009.
Ka Mau te Wehi – conversations in Māori dance examines Māori dance as art-form, entertainment and cultural identity, through a juxtaposition of archival and contemporary imagery. The exhibition is a striking celebration of the dynamic force felt through movement in performance while also bearing testimony to the artists, photographers, film and documentary makers whose creative efforts help inform us who we are as New Zealanders.
From some of the earliest drawings and prints of haka, to photographs and video of Maori contemporary dance, this exhibition draws together moving and still images from private collections and public institutions including the Auckland City Library, the Hocken Collections, University of Otago, the New Zealand Film Archive, Archives New Zealand, the National Library of New Zealand and the Alexander Turnbull Library.
The exhibition begins with a documentary video where over thirty participants discuss ideas of Māori dance, created by curator, visual artist and choreographer, Moana Nepia. This conversation is extended through the physical juxtaposition of contemporary with archival material. Some of the earliest taonga in this exhibition include prints by Augustus Earle and Joseph Jenner Merrett that represent early European encounters with Māori dance and photographs of haka from King Tawhiao’s funeral and Parihaka in the 1890’s that evoke narratives of resistance and solemn moments in our colonial history. Rare silent footage of poi rehearsals and string games from Te Hui Aroha ki Turanga (1919) will also be on display. This footage is all that remains on film of a hui in Gisborne to commemorate the return of the Pioneer Māori battalion from the First World War.
Striking a more contemporary note, familiar and much loved images of Māori moving and grooving by photographer Ans Westra are included alongside other images from private collections. Photographs of the Atamira Dance Collective performing Moss Patterson’s harrowing dance work Whakairo document a more powerful Māori presence within New Zealand contemporary dance. And video works by: Lisa Reihana, Louise Potiki Bryant, Rachael Rakena and Moana Nepia.
This exhibition at ST PAUL St Gallery is one of the outcomes of a research project led by Moana Nepia, funded by Nga Pae o te Maramatanga and hosted at Te Ara Poutama, AUT.