Bronze as a non-customary intervention in the interpretation of insects from the natural world of Māori : an exhibition report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Fine Arts at Massey University, Palmerston North, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Without insects the world as we know it would not exist. Insects are essential for life
on earth, and yet they invoke from us, a gambit of emotions ranging from fear to
fascination. The way in which insects impact on our lives is both surprising and
diverse, and yet, in spite of their importance, insects are primarily overlooked as
members of our natural world because they are small and inconspicuous.
For Māori, insects are part of ngā tamariki a Tāne, borne from the union between
Tāne Mahuta and Punga. But, the distraction associated with colonisation, has faded
much of the mātauranga (knowledge) and oral story telling associated with insects
from Te ao Māori.
For this reason, this thesis focuses on insects recognised by Māori and considered
significant to Māori around the time of European colonisation as based on written
documentation (mostly European) derived from colonial field work observations,
dictionaries, missionaries and researchers both Māori and non Māori during the
nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first centuries. Set within a scientific framework, the
topics covered, range from cosmo-genealogical entomology, through to
Using bronze, the thesis exhibition will visually present the diverse ways in which
insects were significant to Māori. Given the inherent fragility of the invertebrate fauna
and the strength and durability of bronze, this constitutes an ideal medium to interpret
their life histories. Concurrently this work seeks to promote an aesthetic appreciation
for insects by displaying their diverse forms and colours.
The intended out come is to be both informative and visually stimulating.