This was a programme of research investigating the current condition of contemporary Māori visual culture. The Māori curatorial team at the time - Huhana Smith, Oriwa Solomon, Megan Tamati-Quennell, John Walsh, and Awhina Tamarapa - interviewed a diverse range of Māori visual artists and film-makers. This has resulted in a rich oral archive and the continued gathering of such interviews as an ongoing research strategy. The major outcomes of this work have been the Te Papa exhibition Taiāwhio - Continuity and Change, which ran from 21 June 2002 to 23 February 2003, and the publication Taiāwhio - Conversations with Contemporary Māori Artists (general editor, Huhana Smith) in 2002. The programme has also contributed to collection development, with acquisitions including exhibition artworks Te Kawau Mārō, by the Hetet whanau; a nguru (a type of flute); and three hei tiki (pendants) by Rangi Kipa that use contemporary colours and are made from Corian ™.
The objectives of the research were stated in the introduction essay of the Taiāwhio - Continuity and Change publication:
Our interest lay in highlighting the wider social contexts, issues, and tensions that artists deal with, and how they communicate these spheres in their work. In their conversations with us, artists discussed complex transitions from customary practice and understanding into the present. They did this by highlighting issues such as colonisation and assimilation, the place of the Treaty of Waitangi, the erosion of identity through loss of land, cultural rights, economic base (social organisation), and leadership, both men’s and women’s.
We asked participants to describe themselves, talk about their practice, offer views about the cultural and external influences that inform their work, discuss issues affecting their efforts, and explain if the maintenance of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems), a base of kaupapa Māori (Māori principles and purposes), or a particular belief system features in their practice.(1)
(1) Smith, Huhana, ed. 2002. Taiāwhio - Conversations With Contemporary Māori Artists. Wellington: Te Papa. pp6-7.
This book is available from Te Papa Store.