Artist interview: Tama Waipara, musicianHe uiui ringatoi: Tama Waipara, kaitito

Tama Waipara created the soundscape Te Ripo for our latest iwi exhibition, Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow.

What does being Rongowhakaata mean to you?

Being part of a greater whole. Purpose and place. It anchors me when I'm far from home and centres me when I return.

How does this inform and/or inspire you creatively?

Every story, intentionally or otherwise, is part of the collective narrative of our people. Having an artistic platform means there is a responsibility to support and honour that connection. I feel privileged to be part of this legacy of artists and storytellers.

Hear a sample of Te Ripo:

Projection work featured in the video: ‘Ripple/Descend’ by Pippa Keel

Tell us about your work for the exhibition...

Te Ripo is a soundscape designed for the Te Poho space. Sound begins with intent. That intention, whether gentle suggestion or purposeful statement, carries impact and reaction. This impact and reaction links space and time. Ripples are memory and message. The soundscape is an attempt to evoke memory, connecting time and physical space through sound.

The soundscape blends layers of voices, synths, koauau, clarinet and natural sounds. These are used to reflect the movement of ripples, the ebb and flow of water and time.

Ruku i te pō, ruku i te ao.

Playing with the idea of submerged/emergent sound and revisited motifs, this acknowledges the links of whakapapa through Turahiri (represented as fish in the swirling projections) and the space of Te Poho.

I also had the privilege of sound design for my brother Zak's animated short film, Tiwha, tiwha te pō.

Tama Waipara, 2017. Photograph by Daniel Crichton-Rouse

Is there something that you always carry with you?

The name Waipara carries important history of my tupuna and I feel proud to know the origin of the name and Ngai Te Kete.

How do you interpret ‘ruku i te po, ruku i te ao’?

In the soundscape, I related the concept of light and shadow as an expression of time and space and depth.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Gathering with my whānau, iwi, and hapu to mark the opening of Ko Rongowhakaata was incredibly emotional and uplifting. I thought of everyone who led us to this point the opportunities they created for us. I remembered those who have passed on and felt their presence with us. I wished for every Māori person in Aotearoa to feel acknowledged and valued in the way that being part of this exhibition felt on the day it opened. I believe that the ongoing validation of our stories, histories and narrative can heal.