Kei te pūtake o āku mahi ko te Tiriti o Waitangi, koia te tuhinga i takea mai ai te ture me te kāwanatanga o tēnei motu . . . Me kī ko te tino rangatiratanga, ko ngā atua, ko ngā taonga, ko te mana whenua, ko te tūrangawaewae, ko ngā toi, ko te ahurea – koinei ngā rawa, ngā mana, i puritia ai e mātou e ai ki taua tuhinga ōkawa tuatahi.
Ehara i te mea, he māmā ngā peita mō te Tiriti, a Emily Karaka. Ko tōna ahunga tōtika he mea whakakoikoi, heoi he mea whakakōpaki, hoki. Kei runga i Te Uri o Te Ao, 1995 he ruru kaitā e topatopa ana i runga ake i te kānawehi. Ko te manu he karere e matakite ana i te āhuatanga kāore anō kia mōhiotia atu. I konei kei te mahora ōna parirau hei hura i te tīorooro kua peitahia, ānō nei he tirohanga whakatewaho i te peita, he tangi.
Ka peitahia tēnei toi i te wā i hokona atu ai e te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa ngā rawa tūmatanui maha kia tūmataiti kē, ā, ko tā Karaka he whakahē i te mahi a ngā kāwanatanga o te wā, o mua atu hoki, ko te karere a runga ake i te peita, ‘He whenua Māori tēnei whenua’. I taua wā, e ai ki a Witi Ihimaera ko te toi o Karaka he huaki ki te Tiriti o Waitangi, e miramira ana i ngā take pāpori, take tōrangapū e pāngia ai ki te Māori. Ko tā ngā toi peita a Karaka he mōteatea tonu i ngā mūhore me te tukunga iho o te Tiriti, heoi anō, ko tāna he hātepe e kimi ana i te ara ki te murunga hara, hei painga mā āna mokopuna, mā Aotearoa hoki, ā ngā rā e heke mai nei.
My work has been centred around the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document, as the base of legislation and government in this country . . . It’s to do with tino rangatiratanga [sovereignty], our atua [gods], our taonga [treasures], land rights, living rights, arts and cultural rights guaranteed in that foundation document.
There is nothing subtle about Emily Karaka’s Treaty paintings. They possess a directness that is both jagged and enveloping. Te Uri o Te Ao, 1995 features a huge ruru or owl which hovers high on the canvas. The bird is regarded as a messenger foreshadowing events yet unknown. Here, the owl weeps and its wings are spread to reveal a cacophony of painted cries.
Karaka critiques the New Zealand government’s privatisation of public assets with the message painted across the top of the painting ‘This land is Maori land’. Writer Witi Ihimaera described Karaka’s art as a frontal attack on the Treaty of Waitangi, and noted that her paintings highlight social and political issues affecting all Māori. Yet Karaka also endeavours to forgive, for the benefit of her mokopuna (grandchildren) and the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.
(Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, 2020)
- Te Uri O Te Ao
- Production date
- oil on canvas
- 3005 x 1898 x 35 mm
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with the assistance of Reader's Digest New Zealand Limited, 1997
- Accession no
- Copying restrictions apply
- New Zealand Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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