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How can a language be charted over 200 years?
In 1975, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori was first celebrated. In 1769 Captain Cook, with the help of Tahitian navigator Tupaia, followed the Transit of Venus and sailed to Aotearoa.
Nearly 200 years separate these events however, over the same period Māori shifted from a position of dominance and guardianship over European immigrants to a minority group under the colonial government of New Zealand. The Māori language has been relegated to a week of celebration, while English has become the dominant language in most public spheres.
The Māori language, much like Māori land, has been stripped away from Māori over this period of 200 years through the process of colonisation. Even though we celebrate New Zealand being a bi-cultural or multicultural nation, the effects of colonisation have had a massive impact on the way in which New Zealanders communicate.
This video work combines various oral histories, in the form of found audio, with video to create a singular narrative. This particular narrative uses audio that describes the effect colonisation had in its initial stages of the early 1800s among prophets such as Te Kooti, to a more contemporary and personal perspective of mine in 2017. This narrative focuses on waiata, specifically mōteatea, and how information is passed on by using te reo Māori.
This method, of spoken word and visual collage, allows for conversation between different points in history. It is important for young Māori to know, especially those who don’t speak te reo Māori and may not know why it is that they don't speak our language. My work aims to educate, in an accessible way, how we disseminated knowledge before the Europeans arrived.
– Kauri Hawkins