Shona Rapira-Davies

Nga Morehu

Nga Morehu by Shona Rapira-Davies

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Ko Nga Morehu, 1982–98 he āhua rahi tūturu mō ngā hanga uku ira wahine e karanga ana hei whakawātea i te huarahi mō te hunga i te taiao ahurea o nāianei. Ko te ingoa o tēnei mahi toi ko ‘ngā morehu’, ā, kua peitahia, kua tuhia rā-rotohia ki ngā tinana o ēnei wāhine, ngā kupu, ngā whakaaro, ngā wawata e wero ai i te hītori me ngā pānga haere ake nei o te koroniaratanga i Aotearoa. Kei te upoko o te huinga nei tētahi kōtiro e ahu ana ki te kāhui karanga. Kei te titiro ia ki te tukunga iho o te karanga me te koroniaratanga. Ko tā tēnei hanganga aweawe he tūhura i ngā kaupapa e pā ana ki te mamae, te kaimōhū, te haukerekeretanga o te wahine Māori i tā tātou hītori koroniara, heoi anō, he whakanui hoki i te mana o te wahine Māori – tōna aumangaea, ōna kaha katoa. Ka mutu, ko tā Ngā Morehu he anga whakamua i runga i te ngākau rorotu. Ko te kōtiro te whakatipuranga e heke mai nei; ka tū pakari, ka anga atu ki te wā heke tē mōhiotia, ko te mana me te ihi o ōna tūpuna hei kaiwhakatere mōna.

In Nga Morehu life-sized female clay figures perform a karanga (summoning call) – the practice of calling-upon the ancestors to help clear good passage for people in the cultural present. The work’s title means ‘the survivors’, and these women carry words – thoughts and aspirations – that are painted on and inscribed into their bodies which confront the history and ongoing effects of colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand. At the front of this procession stands a young kōtiro (girl) facing the calling women. She is observing the legacy of the karanga and colonialisation. This powerful installation explores themes of pain, grief, and the subjugation of Māori women within our colonial history, but it also celebrates the mana (authority) of Māori women – their immense resilience and strength. Nga Morehu, then, points to the future with a sense of optimism. The young kōtiro represents the next generation who will endure and bear witness to a future yet unknown with the power of her ancestral past guiding the way.

Title
Nga Morehu
Artist/creator
Production date
1982-1988
Medium
terracotta, flax, wood
Dimensions
2400 x 2000 x 7855 mm
Credit line
collection of The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, purchased 1992. with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.
Accession no
X2020/93/7
Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
On display

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