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Kaokao highlights histories with 200m of reflective tape

23 May 2014

Kaokao highlights histories with 200m of reflective tape

Kaokao is a large-scale installation that has been made by the many hands of Mata Aho Collective. Exhibiting at Toi Pōneke from 6-28 June, Kaokao uses industrial materials to reflect and highlight the whakataukī:

He wāhine, he whenua, ka ngaro te tangata.
Without women and without land, humanity is lost.

Kaokao is a tukutuku pattern synonymous with strength and is associated with birthing positions. Customarily portrayed as a female art form, tukutuku are made by two people working together. The pattern also denotes a warrior’s stance and is reminiscent of a military chevron used to decorate the sleeves of soldiers.

With these aspects in mind, this collective of four Māori women have chosen Kaokao as both the literal and conceptual basis to explore the portrayal of women within Māori and non-Māori wartime histories.

“The work of the Mata Aho Collective puts art and collaboration central to the ongoing process of weaving new knowledge together” says Arts Advisor, Jodie Dalgleish. “In Kaokao they create a site of contention, where histories can be explored and the role of women in war is given as much thought as the role of men.”

Inspired by the upcoming WW1 commemorations, Kaokao highlights the roles women play in wartime and portrays a desire for a restorative balance.

“Our work acknowledges the many wāhine who have stood in front, alongside and behind their contemporaries to care and protect their whenua and whānau.”

Ki te mate ngā tane, me mate anō ngā wāhine me ngā tamariki hoki.
If the men die, so too do the women and children.
- Ahumai Te Paerata in the 1864 Battle of Ōrakau.

Mata Aho Collective is a group of contemporary artists who combine individual practices. Formed through friendship and common ideologies, the group enjoys making art together, sharing many laughs, ideas and responsibilities.

Erena Baker (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangātira) completed a Masters in Māori Visual Arts with First Class Honours through Massey University, Palmerston North in 2009.

Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe) completed a Masters in Fine Arts with high distinction through Massey University in 2010.

Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) completed a Masters in Māori Visual Arts, First Class Honors at Massey University, Palmerston North and also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Victoria University, Wellington.

Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa) is currently working towards a PhD in Fine Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North. She holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Māori Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts Massey University.

Mata Aho Collective's recent exhibitions include:
Camp a Low Hum, Wainuiomata. 2014
Pūwawau. Aratoi, Masterton. Group show. 2013
Old Hall Gigs. Vogelmorn Hall, Wellington. 2013
Te Whare Pora. Enjoy Public Art Gallery Summer Residency, Wellington. 2012-13

Kaokao opens at 5.30pm on 5 June at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.

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