Beyond the corners of our whare : a conceptual Māori response to state surveillance in Aotearoa New Zealand : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Arts
This exegesis is a response to surveillance undertaken during ‘Operation 8,’ an
anti-terror investigation carried out by the New Zealand Police in 2007. As an artist
within the community subjected to the surveillance action, I was motivated to explore
how an interdisciplinary arts practice, informed by Māori concepts and
cosmo-genealogy, might respond to state surveillance.
Power relations and surveillance are examined by juxtaposing a Māori world-view
against state sanctioned surveillance of its citizens. A creative practice-based inquiry
was utilised to explore intersections and differences between these two perspectives.
The creative components of this research project comprise a science fiction literary
component, sculpture, installation and video. The project is informed by art and literature
that positions the research within the local but contextualised against global
developments in surveillance.
Māori concepts of mana, tapu, mauri, whanaungatanga and mana motuhake
with a primary focus on hau provide a foundation for this research guided by the
‘He kokonga whare e kitea, he kokonga ngākau e kore e kitea.’
The corners of a house can be seen, the corners of the heart cannot be seen.
When viewed within the context of surveillance the whakataukī asks how we are
affected when the intimate private lives of individuals and community – the
corners of the house - are visible to those with whom we have no direct
The second aspect of the whakataukī refers to those attributes that are unseen. The
qualities that surveillance technology cannot quantify; internal feelings and intentions.
The heart as a hidden space is explored in this exegesis as a site of resistance,
where the capacity of surveillance technique to interpret values of an individual and
community are questioned.