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Deluxe photo book celebrates 20-year connection

Deluxe photo book celebrates 20-year connection between Danish photographer and Whanganui iwi

In the mid-1990s Danish photographer Martin Toft spent six months living among Māori communities far up the Whanganui River, learning of their struggles to retain ancestral lands. Te Whānau O Mangapapapa and Ngā Uri O Tamahaki cemented the bond by giving him the Māori name Pouma Pokai-whenua. Returning twenty years later to rekindle the spiritual kinship he had experienced, Toft started work on a book.

Te Ahi Kā – The Fires of Occupation records that interaction in photos, archival images, interviews and text — summarising the key political, environmental and cultural issues for the iwi.

Published in the UK, craft-printed in Poland and distributed in New Zealand by Oratia Books, the sumptuous hardback features superb colour and black and white photographs (spanning 1885 to 2017), fold-out pages and alternate female (fern) and male (embers) cloth embossed covers. A pre-publication dummy version of the book was shortlisted for the Kassel Dummy Award in Germany in 2018.

In early December 2018, representatives of Te Whānau o Mangapapapa travelled from the Whanganui region to Auckland’s North Shore for a ceremonial blessing of the book before it went on sale.

Te Ahi Kā evokes the physical and metaphysical relationship between a river and its ancestors, between Māori and the author. It aims to leave a legacy for future guardians of the Whanganui, and to share the aspirations and desires of this unique community.

The project was made possible with financial support from Creative New Zealand, Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund and Te Mana o Te Awa grant administered by Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Martin Toft is a photographer, photo book artist and educator who works on commissions and long-term collaborative projects. Born in Denmark in 1970, he has travelled widely and since 2004 has been based in Jersey, where he teaches photography at Hautlieu School. His work has been exhibited and awarded widely around the world.

Te Ahi Kā: The Fires of Occupation by Martin Toft, published by Dewi Lewis Publishing and distributed in New Zealand and Australia by Oratia Books
ISBN: 978-1-911306-38-2 | RRP $65.00
Hardback, female & male editions, 205 x 165 mm portrait, 200 pages colour incl. foldouts

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