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Indigenous Storyteller Wins Prestigious Photography Award

Indigenous Storyteller Wins Prestigious Photography Award

South Auckland Photographer and storyteller Qiane Matata-Sipu was honoured at the 2018 New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year Awards in Auckland last night.

Matata-Sipu was awarded the 2018 New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year Progear Photostory award for her six-image social documentary series about the land protest in Ihumātao.

The 33 year old creative and mother, of Te Wai o Hua, Waikato-Tainui, Ngā Puhi and Cook Islands descent, says the win is extra special because the topic was one close to her heart.

“This is my whenua, these are my people. I have been documenting our whanau, our papakainga, and our marae for the last 10 years,” says Matata-Sipu.

“So many photographers feel they need to go to far flung countries to tell compelling stories, the NZ Geographic Awards show us that some of our best stories are in our own backyards.”

Matata-Sipu credits her late grandparents for inspiring what has become a life-long storytelling goal.

“My nan Dawn and papa Joe told me stories about how much life, the environment, and their way of living had changed between their generation and mine. It inspired me so much that I have made it one of my personal missions to document the changes taking place over my lifetime, both the people and the place.”

New Zealand Geographic Publisher James Frankham says Qiane’s work is ‘world-class’ and reflects the diversity in storytelling the magazine aspires to create a platform for.

“Qiane’s photo-story on Ihumātao was one of the most exceptional pieces of work we’ve seen”, says James.

“It was captured from the perspective of the protested and benefited from exceptional access, but Qiane also brought intimacy and confidence to the story, giving an insight into the long and difficult struggle for mana whenua over this contended land. The images were beautiful, poignant and powerful.”

Matata-Sipu says change is happening drastically in Ihumātao and winning the award will help to continue giving visibility to the stories and narratives.

“There is gross industrial encroachment as large factories swamp the landscape between the papakainga and the airport and, the designation of Special Housing Area 62 sees plans for a 480-dwelling housing development to be built in Ihumātao, critically affecting this unique settlement.

“These changes reflect what is happening to small communities around the country and the effect growth has on our society and environment.”

Matata-Sipu’s recognition is also a win for indigenous women. There are very few female feature photographers in New Zealand, and even fewer who are Māori.

The award is also much needed encouragement and validation for Matata-Sipu as she prepares to launch NUKU in early 2019 - a multimedia visual and storytelling series for and about kickass indigenous women doing things differently.

Over one year, Matata-Sipu will photograph and interview 100 indigenous women across Aotearoa to document their stories and amplify their voices in our ever changing society.


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