Centuries ago, Tamokai of the inland Te Aowera people spoke to his kinsman Kōkere and said: ‘“Hoake tāua ki te Waiapu tātara e maru ana—“Let us go to Waiapu, where the rain cape is thick.” With its reference to a woven rain cape, usually made of harakeke, this Ngāti Porou whakatauākī speaks of the shelter provided by the forested Waiapu valley. Today, her ‘rain cape’ is now threadbare due to deforestation more than a century ago. In response, Ngāti Porou have set forth the vision to revitalise Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua. This exhibition offers a record of an ancestral tīpuna landscape as it is today. Hope comes in the form of a red-tipped dawn—te atā kura.
Natalie Robertson is a senior lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology, she makes photographic and moving images that relate to indigenous practices and relationships to the land.
Each year, Natalie returns to whānau land at Omaewa, to strengthen her ties to the whenua. Omaewa, is just north of Port Awanui, family land belonging to Robertson, a member of Te Whānau a Hineauta, Te Whānau a Pōkai. This frequent returning rebuilds old family connections and relationships and deepens her knowledge of place.
Robertson has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and internationally. She is also a founding member of the Auckland-based collective Local Time, which facilitates site-specific projects that speak to local and indigenous contexts.