Inside the Whare Iri-Te-Kura there’s a perspex box on a central pou that contains a New Zealand Film and Television award that was given to the film “Ngāti” in 1988. It’s an odd coalescence when the virtual is returned to the real in order to acknowledge the role it played in its conception. Filming for “Ngāti” took place in and around Waipiro Bay using significant sites from the area as its base. The films narrative developed to offer a way of tying together the discourse of urban drift and its pressures on communities. I get a sense that the intent was to develop a somewhat idealized space, a purely virtual space at that, which would operate to anchor Maori. By talking of a time when Maori were in the process of contending with the implications of moving away from rural lifestyles and subsistence economies that existed on the peripheries of nation to become more central within the functionality of a capitalist economy. In order to be accessible the film employed a narrative strategy of using non-descript Iwi and place names to avoid the alienation of a broad spectrum of Maori. The names Ngāti and Kapua for the township are generic cues that are able – through a lack of specificity – to create a community interior, an amalgam that could conceivably be transposed across any rural setting. Kapua translates to cloud and is an apt metaphor given that the location doesn’t exist, its abstracted past any tangible point of entry, you can’t arrive there by bus, live there, help out the drovers or marry a local. So “Ngāti” never quite becomes a lesson in how to achieve the sustained economic independence as was realized in the film. The film in that sense remains a cloud yet it is built around social structures that have proven to be perennial such as Tangi and Marae. While Kapua has a timeless quality it is more like that of a Maori Brigadoon that appears only once in every thousand video rentals, whereas Iri-Te-Kura remains a formal constant.
Kapua is a four channel work consisting of asynchronous loops of Home movies, Video and Animated content. The work has been discussed as a visual pepeha, as the work shows elements drawn from and relevant to broad hapu and whānau concerns.
The work was first shown at MIT, Otara in 2007. At Artspace, Auckland in 2008, in the “Architecture for the nation” exhibition.
The video is DV PAL 4:3.
Axes: 3D animation of axes, based on the layout of a community hall in Kaiti, Gisborne.
Hollis family home: The house where my fathers family grew up in, at Waipiro Bay.
Hall: Home movie footage from a Hollis/Rangiuaia Family reunion in 1990, based in a Community Hall in Kaiti, Gisborne.
Waipiro Trading Company 1888: This is an animation consisting of the WTC and Eels, the collusion of the space and the animated elements is intended to intimate the shift in economies present in the area.
Auckland War Memorial Museum: A look through the old collection of Māori artefacts in the museum, with a specific focus on the work of Riwai Pakerau, my Tipuna.
Flat: The rental property that my partner and I lived in, in Mangere, during the production of this work.
Tangimangaone: An interior of the Wharekai of the marae Iri-te-kura, Waipiro Bay.
Waterfall: A leap from a waterfall north of Gisborne. (1990).
Pool: Home movie footage of my whānau making piggyback stacks in a public pool north of Gisborne.
Work installed at MIT, Otara.
Work installed at Artspace, Auckland.