Haehae and the art of reconciliation : cutting through history to generations of artistic expression : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of Master of Fine Arts, Massey University, Wellington

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At the heart of the Parihaka story is its people. Its origins, its resistance, its desecration, its desolation is its people. A place where its people have shaped its legacy, but one that could never be told or acknowledged without the survival of those people. Today its restoration, rejuvenation and revitalisation are still about its people. My people. From August 2000 to January 2001 an exhibition at Wellington’s City Gallery, curated by the late Te Miringa Hohaia, titled ‘Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance’ took the artistically interpreted story of those people, of that settlement, of that injustice and a hugely important but conveniently ignored part of this nation’s history to a wider public audience than ever before (Hohaia, O’Brien, & Strongman, 2001). It cut a swathe through the heart of ignorance, of cultural amnesia, of colonial government corruption and introduced thousands of unknowing citizens to a story purposefully forgotten and unspoken and one that, ironically today, still remains a largely unknown aspect of Aotearoa’s history. To date there has not been another single collection or exhibition of this magnitude brought together to speak directly of the Parihaka experience, but while the opportunity for continued education from an exhibition on that scale has not yet been realised, many other artworks, projects and exhibitions during the ensuing years have featured work which continues to educate by reflecting that painful legacy. That enduring pain continues to cut deep, into the consciousness of those of us who are descendants and into the psyche of those who come to the knowledge later in life, asking why they were never told (Warne, 2016). This thesis proposes to examine the integrated notion of cutting – or haehae, in its literal and figurative manifestations, on materials in creative output, within the hearts, minds and skin of Parihaka uri (descendants). It will examine its representative aspect within the art that relates to my Parihakatanga and is exemplified through many artforms created by other artists, with whom I share whakapapa to the Kipa (Skipper) whānau (family). I will also explore my own artistic response to that legacy, leading to the development of my final project, inspired by two specific personally experienced events – which on the surface seem totally unrelated, but in actuality are intrinsically linked. The first is ‘He Puanga Haeata,’ the Parihaka-Crown Reconciliation Ceremony held at Parihaka Pā on Friday 9 June 2017 (‘He Puanga Haeata’, 2017), while the second event is the May 2018 mass beaching of parāoa (sperm whales) along the South Taranaki coastline (Boult, 2018). Developing a cultural narrative and artistic transition from art reflecting pain, anguish and trauma to hope, promise and reconciliation is an ongoing challenge, a journey that myself and others may continue to articulate within various aspects of our work, cutting across history and generations.
Art, Maori, New Zealand, Maori (New Zealand people), History, Te Ātiawa (New Zealand people), Parihaka Pa (N.Z.), Reconciliation, Political aspects, Mahi toi, Pūmanawa, Whānau, Whakapapa, Raranga, Tāniko, Whakairo, Tā moko (Uhi), Kōrero nehe, Tohorā, Māori Masters Thesis