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Eco Justice & the Sustenance of Maori Cultures

August 18, 2003

Environmental Justice & the Sustenance of Traditional Maori Cultures

TE TAUMATA ART GALLERY presents, "Te Waiora E" an exhibition by five artists from Kawerau who are standing up against huge multi-national corporations in defense of the waters and the earth we all share. Representing the tribal areas of Te Arawa, Ngati Awa, Tuwharetoa-Ki-Kawerau and Tuhoe, they have created an art exhibition that challenges Maori and N.Z. citizens to protect the seas, rivers and other waters contained within the lands of Aotearoa. The exhibition, which is titled, "Te Waiora E: Ma Wai Hei Tieki?," poses the question, who will protect the essence of life? The exhibition aims to highlight pollution impacting on the lands and waters of the region of Waiariki, including the rivers of Tarawera, Rangitaiki and Whakatane. (See below for more information)

The exhibition opening begins at 7p.m. on Friday, September 5th at Te Taumata Art Gallery which is situated at 124 Symonds St, Tamaki Makaurau. The night will be hosted by TV3 News presenter Carol Hirschfeld and Writer Materoa Dodd. The exhibition ends October 4th but will also feature at this years Maori Expo (Sept 11th) alongside John Miller's photographic installation, Awha ki Uta.


Rerehau Gordine - Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau
(Acrylic/Mixed Media on Board)

Aroha Ruha - Ngati Awa, Te Arawa
(Weaving of Harakeke, Pingao and Kiekie)

Grace Voller - Ngati Awa
(River sand/Natural Pigments on Canvas and Rock)

Hapimana Whakaruru - Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau
(Carver of Wood, Bone and Gourds)

Waimarie Hunt - Tuhoe, Te Arawa
(Oil/Acrylic on Board and Canvas)


"There is a deep sense of injustice and creeping despair that the cultural life of the Tarawera River has been destroyed. Cultural lore has been reduced to a perspective of the dominant cultures’ rule of law. The plea for the cultural voice of the Tarawera River to be heard echoes throughout land, yet the silence of the response is deafening…"

--Na Materoa Dodd.

Pre 1950's - WAIARIKI

It is a stunning culture. A rich, full aquatic tree of rivers, tributaries, streams, hotpools and sea. An all flowing system teeming with life, an all connecting system that sustains a plethora of flaura and fauna as well as local hapu. Tangaroa…Tarawera, Whakatane, Rangitaiki. Continue as you always have, resting upon the rhythms of Papatuanuku and forever embracing the tides of Ranginui that contain the source of life and well-being. Na te Waiora a Tane, e haere mai te mauri ora.

Early 1950's - KAWERAU

Enter Fletcher Challenge and Tasman Pulp and Paper Company. Enter dioxin, a chemical which did not even exist until the middle of last century. Disrupted system. Disrupted hapu. Disrupted life. A new culture emerges bringing with it the black tide of industry, the black promise of development. Waikino! Waimate! Sea's and rivers containing foreign pollution, the source of death and illness. Na te kino o te Pakeha, e haere mai te mauri mate.

The Present – AOTEAROA

Industry and Council dumping of deadly waste on hapu territories continues. Dioxins, chlorine and other hazardous by-products of industrial society are pumped into local waters and soil. Fletcher Challenge's Tasman Pulp and Paper Company discharges 150 million litres of organochlorine-contaminated effluent from its Kawerau mill into the Tarawera River every day, making it one of the most polluted rivers in New Zealand. Maori peoples suffer disproportionately higher death and illness rates than other populations.

The future - AOTEAROA

Through the power of action, Maori wisdom reaches out to you and others to change the legacy we leave for future generations. Maori communities and territories are no longer a dumping ground for corporate and council waste and environmental oppression is not tolerated by N.Z. citizens. Maori and N.Z. Citizens send a clear message to government, local authorities and multinational corporations. Our voice is loud. Our voice is clear: KAO!

Mere Takoko Curator & Sales Manager Te Taumata Art Gallery 124 Symonds Street PO Box 68172 Auckland 1001 tel +64 9 358 0608 fax +64 9 358 2980 email

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