Paul DIamond looking at a poster for ‘Māui the untold stories’.

Complete curator’s talk

Hear the whole of Paul Diamond’s talk as he walks through the Pūkana exhibition.

Take an audio tour with Paul Diamond one of the curators of Pūkana. Paul shares stories and highlights from the exhibition.

Listen to Paul Diamond talk about Pūkana

Transcript — Complete curator’s talk

  • Transcript — Complete curator’s talk | part 1

    Complete curator’s talk | part 1

    Kia ora. My name's Paul Diamond. I'm the Māori curator at the Alexander Turnbull Library, which is part of the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, and we are in the National Library gallery. In this exhibition, I was one of three curators Pūkana moments of Māori performance. So when you go into the gallery, you come into the biggest space in the gallery, which is an area that sort of sits out some of the foundational ideas of the exhibition. But there's an introduction panel, which has these two subtitles that the exhibition has got.

    So there's an English subtitled moments, Moments in Māori performance, which really came from my colleague Peter Ireland, who's the gallery specialist here at the library. And he said, well, all of us can remember moments when we encountered Māori performance and the way it made us feel. So we loved that because it gave us a way of structuring what was potentially huge and overwhelming to try and tell the story of Māori performance. We realized we just needed to tell a story, a collection of stories.

    But then there's also a Māori title, Pūkana, which you often hear all those tombs together, and there are three qualities associated with performance with Maori performance. And it's like a lot of Maori terms, they're hard to translate exactly. But te ihi is the idea of the quality — talks about the quality of the performance from the — of what the performer themselves produces. And then te wehi is the reaction that has on people seeing the performance and experiencing the performance and then to te wana is the state speaks to the, sort of, state that people are in after that performance happens. So those two ideas really work together.

    So one of the first things you see when you come into the space is two carved Māori figures, and these are called karetao. So one of the other curators, Vicki-Anne Heikell said to me, what about karetao, when we were thinking about our research. And I really didn't know much about what these are. I knew that they were translated in English as puppets, but I've, sort of, come to realize that there's a lot more to them.

    And the reason they're here is because they feature in some of the earliest stories of Māori performance. And they feature in a story that's quite intriguing because it's so old about a man called Tinirau and his wife Hineteiwaiwa, who had a child, and they needed a tohunga as part of the process of giving birth to the child. So Kae was this to tohunga who came and help them with the birth.
    And after the child was successfully born, they wanted to thank the tohunga. They gave him a piece of cooked whale meat from their pet whale Tutunui. And the tohunga was so amazed by this whale, he asked if he could ride at home. And so they let him do that.

    They weren't keen on that, but they let him do that. They gave him specific instructions on what he had to do to get on one side of the whale, to get off on the other side. He ignored that. The whale was exhausted and died, and he and his people ate the whale.

    Meanwhile back at the whale's home, the chief Tinirau and Hineteiwaiwa were wondering where the whale was. So Hineteiwaiwa and a group of women — apparently there was 40 women set off in a waka to find what had happened to the whale. And they didn't know what he looked like, the tohunga, but they knew he had a double tooth.

    So the woman when they arrived at this tohunga's village did all these performances, and the performances used waiata, haka. Apparently that was the first ever kapa haka group. They used these karetao, and they used taonga pūoro, traditional Maori instruments. And in the end, they did a very erotic rude explicit haka, and it made him smile.

    And so they identified who it was. They put a spell on the whole village, brought Kae, the tohunga, back to their village, and they built a replica of his house. And when he woke up, he thought he was in his own house and then they killed him. And that restored balance across those different communities.

    So the karetao are here, because they link us back to that old, old foundational story. And also I think for me learning a bit about that story is that performance always has a reason, even if it's just for fun and for entertainment. There's always a point to it the performers are always trying to get a reaction, or they're doing it for their own reason of why they're doing that performance.

    When we went to see this karetao from the Oldman collection, which is probably incredibly old that was bought by the New Zealand government from a collector in England in 1946, we noticed that Te Papa had another karetao that was donated by Alexander Turnbull. So Pūkana was the first of two centenary exhibitions commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Turnbull, the founding of the Turnbull Library. So the collection was given to the King, the country of New Zealand, in 1918 when Turnbull died, but the library didn't open till 1920. So there's a two year centenary period.

    So it turned out that this karetao was commissioned by Alexander Turnbull from Elsdon Best, the famous ethnographer, who did a lot of work in the Tuhoe area. And this karetao has ruatahuna tattooed on the back of her, which is part and the heart of Tuhoe's rahu or tribal area. And we found that we had, well, in it one letter from Alexander Turnbull to Elsdon Best, but it's the letter that he wrote in 1899 requesting that Best ask Māori in the area he was living to make various Maori items. And in the list of the items is a karetao for 14 shillings.

    So these two figures, which we are so privileged to have as part of the exhibition online from Te Papa are there for all these multiple reasons. They are acknowledging our founding donor, Alexander Turnbull. They tie us back to these really early foundational stories about performance, and it's just great that they're here with us for the duration of the exhibition.

    There's been a revival of karetao in recent years led by people, including a man called James Webster. So in the exhibition, we have photos of James and his wife performing with some of the karetao that he's been carving. And then we've also got material to do with another, sort of, rendition or a version of an old story and one maybe that's better known to people about Maui and his brothers and his exploits and how he fished up the North Island Te Ika-a-Māui, along with other things.

    But this was a production that was done by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, who are very well known young Māori performers. But this happened earlier on in their career when they were — they'd formed a group called the Humour Beasts. And what's interesting is that that was in the early 2000s when their own solo careers were really starting to take off, and Taika Waititi had done a short film called ‘Two Cars, One Night’. Jermaine Clement was in The Flight of the Conchords.

    But at that time, they also did this production called ‘The Untold Tales of Maui’. So what we have in the collection is a poster from that, which is mimicking the Māori land style that was used by Pākehā to sort of represent Māori. And it was a bit patronising, but what these guys have done is use that to answer back that, sort of, representation.

    So they've got two images of themselves that look a lot like daguerreotypes or really old prints. And the one of Taika has Māori prints and then the negative number just like prints in our collection and Jermaine's one has noble savage on it. So it's very, very clever, and this production was hugely successful. It was commissioned by Taki Rua theatre. It sold out before it opened at Bats, which is admittedly a small venue.

    Then it toured around the country. The Māori Women's Welfare League supported it to go to the South Island. And it was about Maui. It was set in the — it was set in the time of Michael Jackson and moon walking, and that main character played by Taika was a boy called Tama who lived with his father Tutanui. He was the son of Tutanui. And his mother didn't know what to do with them, because all he wanted to do was moonwalk every day.

    So she sent him to see his nanny, who was played by Jermaine Clement. And nanny had lost two legs at Chunuk Bair. So it was Jermaine kneeling in front — behind a blanket. And nanny told Tama about his illustrious ancestor Maori and all these things he'd done. And the two — these two actors played all the characters, and they played all of Maui's brothers and they used puppets. And all the brothers were called ‘Bro’.

    And then when Māori fished up the North Island. They said, ‘oh, Maui, you're a legend’. So I haven't even seen the production, because it was very — it was so popular, it was pretty hard to get tickets for this. But Ariana Tikao, who's another curator of this exhibition, did see it and can remember.

    But we've got colleagues here at the library who thought this poster was actually an old poster from the early 1900s. These guys have done such a clever job at representing that. So why this is here is, again, it links us into one of our old foundational stories from these ancient ancestors, but it also shows how Māori performance is happening over time, and it's sort of acknowledging and honoring two of our current practitioners in Māori performance.

    Moving from that section of the exhibition over to another part of this first gallery, there's a case with an incredible item in our collection. That's what our colleague Dr. Oliver Steed, who's our curator of drawings paintings and prints, said to us when we were researching for the exhibition as perhaps the first image of a Māori person in the Turnbull collections.

    So it's a sketch. It's a pencil drawing by William Wade Ellis, who was the surgeon's mate on Captain Cook's third voyage to New Zealand. So this is we're talking 1777 or possibly slightly later.

    And it's a Māori man, sort of, viewed from behind. And he's got one arm down, the other arm his right — his left arm — actually right as we look at it — in the air and he's holding a patu. So you can't see his face. You're looking at him from behind.

    And I thought that was interesting, because he's — it's a performance stance. He's maybe speaking. He might be doing a haka.

    But it's a, sort of, a gesture. He's gesturing to the people that we can't see that are out of the frame. When Ariana saw this, she was interested that it placed the viewer behind the man. So she said, ‘oh, it's like we're on his side’, the mana whenua or the home side, which made us think about one of our ideas for this exhibition is to try and see what's going on in these collections from a Māori perspective.

    And then it also reminded me of a quote from Barry Barclay, amazing Māori filmmaker, who talked about this idea of the camera on the shore, the camera Māori hands and the context of film making and saying what would that look like of Māori had recorded images themselves rather than people from the outside sort of recording images about Māori.

    So really it's introducing that idea that in this exhibition we're trying hard to look at our collections in multiple ways, not just from the perspective of the donors who overwhelmingly tend to be non-Māori from Alexander Turnbull forward.

    Beside that section of the exhibition is another section called He aha te pūkana?. What is pukana? Because Fiona Oliver, a colleague I sit next to, said, ‘Well, you probably need to include this, because some people will know what pukana is. Some people won't know’.

    So to introduce that idea to people that we've got some images of pukana. Now pukana is where in performance, the eyes move sort of up and down and sideways but the face remains stationary. And it's got all sorts of reasons why it's used in performance.

    So we've got a couple of very old images of pukana, and then we've got a couple of modern images with one as Jim Moriarty and another is George Henare, two still practicing Māori actors.

    So that's the, sort of, introductory section of Pūkana, and then the next room in their gallery is looking at really having established this idea of performance in ancient times. Where does it go to from there? And there's this idea of rhythm and movement and the origins of haka and poi.

    In Maori, our title is ‘Ngā mahi a Tānerorore raua ko hineruhi’. So Tānerorore is the, sort of, god to do with haka. And tānerorore is the idea that on a really, really hot day when you see — it's so hot you can see movement. You look out, and you can see movement.

    That's the idea of what wiri wiri performers, sort of, have their hands shimmering and shaking beside them. That's inspired by that idea of the sun on a hot day. And Hineruhi is another deity it says on our panel here. It's a deity found at dawn whose dances seem to be the sparkle of light that's reflected in the morning dew, and it's particularly associated with female performance.

    So Tānerorore is very associated with haka, and Hineruhi is very associated with female performance. So we've got some images of haka and poi. Vicki-Anne Heikell, my co-curator on Pūkana as part of our research found these — found two images that are quite beautiful, and they're side by side in the exhibition. One is of women doing poi in about 1910.

    So as was common at that time, they're wearing pupum, but they wear these big white blouses with big puffy sleeves that were called Mother Hubbard blouses. And they've got sashes and feathers in their hair actually. We don't know where this image was taken. It's supposed to be taken by a man called Joseph Zachariah who's not famous for his images of Māori. He's famous for his images of Wellington.

    But he did do one trip to Whanganui to photograph Maori. And we're wondering if this image, which is available online, was taken somewhere on the way up. Because there are hills in the background which could be the hills that you can see from bits of the Kapiti Coast. So that's a little mystery that maybe over the course of this exhibition, we might shed some light.

    And then Vicki-Anne placed that alongside a lino cut print by an artist called Hineahuane Coralee Cook, who's actually the mother of a former colleague of ours, Walter Cook. And it's a dance at Te Oriori marae in 1937. And it's a beautiful image, because there's a band playing in the top left corner, and there are people dancing. So it's lovely seeing performance in a Māori context, like a wharenui, but also Vicki-Anne sort of liked the sensuality and the idea of performance happening in a private intimate space like that.

    So this section carries on and looks at continuity and change over time. We've got a very early image of men performing a haka by William Strut from 1855 to 56. So the men are wearing ammunition belts on their waists. They're, sort of, mid-haka. They've got one arm up, all of them. And they're not just holding Māori weapons. They're holding rifles and actually swords, cutlasses and things.

    That was interesting once we sort of looked at that sort of mixing of European and Māori items. But then when we put that alongside an image by our colleague, Dylan Owen, Peter Ireland spotted that there were real visual resonances between that struck image and Dylan's image, which is of boys performing haka at parliament in 2015. And that was when a whole lot of schoolchildren came to Wellington to protest about not being — there not being a national day to commemorate the New Zealand wars.

    And it was fascinating to see those two together, and that was the great thing about working on this exhibition as part of a team is that you got the chance for those sort of connections to be made. Then below those two images and in this part of the exhibition is an image by an artist called John Gilfilian of a woman standing up from a group of men doing haka. So it's a pencil drawing, and the woman has, sort of, come out.

    Now this might be a thing called manananahu, which is a custom that's in the process of being revived at the moment where the woman comes out of the main group and, sort of, gestures challenges the other group and then she goes back into the main group. That could be what's happening here, but then we put that alongside women in the South Island at the opening of the Tuhuru Meeting House, which I think is in Hokitika. It's on the west coast of the South Island. This is Ngāti Waewae.

    Because Ariana who's from Ngai Tahu, remembered that this had happened, and the women there doing the whero, which is they're practically the only iwi that does this. This is really unusual. And it's a revival, again, of an old custom. So we've put those two alongside each other.

    What this section is also looking at is when performance comes out of a Māori setting and goes beyond that into the pakeha world, into the European world. So we've got Katherine Mansfield's poi that perhaps she collected as a tourist to some part of New Zealand, and we've put that alongside images of the 1978 engineers haka that the next year when that was — this is at Auckland University. Haka over time had become pretty debased and offensive.

    The engineers didn't think there was any problem with that, but Māori in the late 70s were very unhappy about that. And a lot of people had asked for it to be stopped. It carried on, and while they were rehearsing there was a big attack by a group who were called He Taua. And there was a big inquiry into race relations. There were court cases.

    So we've got those two there to talk about what happens when you take Māori performance out of a Māori setting into different settings. And on the opposite wall in this area, those ideas are really developed. And the section called ‘Whiua ki te ao’, ‘Taking Māori to the world’. And ‘Whiua ki te ao’ comes from a waiata actually called ‘Whakarongo’, which is celebrating Maori language.

    And in this section, there are — there's a poster for a performance by a Māori group who were in England and Scotland in the 1860s. And they're probably the first group of Māori performers who came via Melbourne and Sydney and then were taken up to England. And strangely there was another group of Māori in England at exactly the same time.

    And they weren't strictly speaking performers. They were taken with a man called William Jenkins who was a lay preacher. And he — he was apparently quite conscious that he didn't want them to be seen as performers, but he was giving illustrated talks about New Zealand and he wanted them to kind of illustrate the talks. So they, kind of, were performers.

    His trip was a disaster financially in all sorts of ways. He feell out with the group. They ran out of money. They had to live with in a charitable institution. Two of the people in that group though did meet — when the group met Queen Victoria, two of the group, a husband and wife, Hareate and Harepomare, when Hareate was pregnant, Queen Victoria noticed that she was pregnant and, kind of, asked for them to have special treatment. She arranged for their accommodation and was very involved in the — after the birth of their child who was called Albert Victoria after her late son.

    So they had a better time of it, but the rest of the group had a really hard time. Three of them actually left and went to the other group. But below the image of some of the group with William Jenkins, we've got an image of a group of people with a woman who was like the superstar — singing superstar of her day, Princess Te Rangi Pai, who's one of the performers we featured in the performing Korea section of this exhibition. She's there with Maggie Papakura Makereti, and her sister, Bella, both famous guides from Whakarewarewa from Rotorua.

    And they took concert parties to Australia and England, and Princess Te Rangi Pai had a successful career. People may not have heard of her, but they've probably heard of one of the songs that she wrote ‘Hine e hine’ or the goodnight kiwi theme, which a song that we still sing which I think is amazing.

    We've got these women there to sort of acknowledged that later on Māori had different experiences of taking their perform their performing cultures to the world. And these women had more say over how their performance was taken to the world.

    We've got Johnny Cooper's concert poster for a variety show in Greymouth in 1957. When Johnny Cooper was one of the headline acts, he was known as the Maori cowboy. He came down from Wairoa to Wellington. Actually worked as a grave digger while he was, sort of, developing his musical career. Loved country music and recorded New Zealand's, one of the first recordings in New Zealand for rock — the New Zealand version of ‘Rock around the clock’.

    But he went on to run talent shows, which in a pre-TV age were hugely important. And it's amazing he went to Māori centers. And there were so many Māori in the photos.

    And it's also acknowledging that before he passed away in the early I think it was 2004 he died, he donated and sold his collection to the Turnbull Library. So all through this exhibition we're sort of acknowledging that people who've trusted us with their collections.

    Finally, in this section there's a little part – somber part really about the connection between performance and grief, the pare kawakawa, which is the greenery that's worn during times of mourning. And, in fact, you can see the greenery. And one of the – there are three photos in this section, and one of them is Ripeka Love from Te Ati Awa, and in 1946 when Welcome to the Māori Battalion was happening on the waterfront on the wharf in Wellington.

    And below that is an image that Vicki-Anne found of the Awatere Māori Choir singing for the Kiwi Request Session at the British Forces Radio Station in Bari in Italy. And what those women were tangi-ing about was the return of those soldiers and, of course, the soldiers who hadn't come back or the soldiers who'd been wounded. And some of those are the men below though during the war sort of recording and singing and recording messages for people back at home.

    Then the last image in the section about performance and grief is an image from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March 2019, which was something that happened while we were researching for ‘Pūkana’. And it was a horrendous thing to happen while we were thinking about Māori performance, but it was so significant we were thinking about ways of including it. We came across an image of schoolchildren doing haka outside one of the mosques, the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.

    And this photo was taken by Associated Press by Vincent Tien, a photographer of Associated Press, which actually meant we had to buy this photo to use it. But again, remembering those foundational ideas in this exhibition of trying to see collections from a Māori perspective, we tried to find out who these girls were. Because the photo focuses on two girls.

    And we knew that the uniforms were Christchurch girls I think in Rangiura. And because Ariana Tikao, one of the other curators, is from Christchurch, she activated her networks and through funding their mothers we found out that this is Nakisha Kingi and Azaria Thompson. So that's a great example of ways that you can make the collections.

    You can make the collections work a bit harder, and you can ask different questions of the collections. And we've collected the websites with this image. This image went all around the world. It's been – on millions of websites.
    But it's great to have that information, and we've made contact with the girls. And one of them has actually written to us with her memories of that day. So it's – we might sort of revise our label and interpretation for this section. So, particularly the influence of Ariana really on me, that idea of always challenging yourself and not just thinking, oh, well, we don't have much that's actually collected by Māori, generated by Māori. You can actually ask different questions of the collections and tell different stories.

    And then moving into the next section of the exhibition, which is called Ngā Puna Waihanga, which has, sort of, got a double meaning. Ngā Puna Waihanga was an organisation coming together of Māori artists and writers in 1973, and it was quite unusual for art to be organised like that. That wasn't how European art was organised in New Zealand. But at that time, the Māori artists and writers wanted to come together. And they had these hui all around the country, and they have donated their collection to the Alexander Turnbull library.

    But the other double meaning for this is this idea of looking at the actual meaning of that, the puna. It's the, sort of, wellspring sources of growth and looking at the revival of Māori art. And just at the beginning of this section is a magnificent artwork by Para Matchitt that was actually purchased by the library, the National Library in 1987 – so the National Library used to have its own art collection – and it's called ‘Ka mate’. It's actual full name is: Ka mate, Ka ora! Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā! Upane, kaupane. Whiti te rā! From the haka, Ka mate.

    So it's linking back actually to the earlier section about haka and poi, that iconic nere, or haka, that's really well known in part because of our national rugby team, the All Blacks, but also acknowledging Para, one of our senior Māori artists, and also was the head of Ngā Puna Waihanga for many years.

    So in that section, we've got some examples of photos from Ngā Puna Waihanga hui and we've decided to focus on two aspects of Ngā Puna Waihanga. Taonga pūoro revival, so Ariana Tikao who helped curate this exhibition and is also a Taonga pūoro player herself, she found a sequence of photos actually in Richard Nunns’ collection, which is a fantastic collection that Richard Nunns, a musician and performer and someone very involved in the revival of Taonga pūoro together with Hirini Melbourne.

    Richard donated his collection to the Turnbull, but in that collection there's photos of someone else. And this is a man called Te Mauri o Te Tiriti o Waitangi Tirikatene. So this is Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s brother playing the pūtōrino, one of the taonga pūoro. So these were negatives, and Ariana found these. And we've had them digitised, and they've been made into a fantastic frieze that's been printed so that you can actually see the whole sequence.

    We've got images of taonga pūoro at Ngā Puna Waihanga hui. We've got correspondence from Richard Nunns to Margaret Orbell. Now Margaret Orbell was a pakeha woman who did a huge amount of work on Māori myths and legends and a whole lot of different Māori kaupapa. Her collection was donated by her family after her death, and the letter is from Richard to Margaret asking if she had any information about taonga pūoro because he was getting ready to do a performance. This is in 1985, so it's great to think of how that revival kind of developed from there.

    And we've got a recording of it's called ‘Traditional music of the Māori’, and it featured this kuia Paeroa Wineera, who apparently was one of the last people before the revival who knew how to play taonga pūoro. And also coincidentally on that album is singing by a woman called Hannah Tatana who was one of the wonderful discoveries for us in this exhibition, a contralto singer who trained in New Zealand in the 1960s and is now based overseas. So she's another of the performers that we are featuring.

    And then finally in this Ngā Puna Waihanga section there are two key figures in Ngā Puna Waihanga that we are featuring, Hone Tuwhare, and we have an image, a beautiful image by Ans Westa. We have a series of images from Ans’ huge collection of photographs here. And then we've also got a man called Rowley Habib, who is a playwright, he was the first Māori to write a television drama for television and was a poet and writer as well. And we've got examples of their work here as well.

    And Hone is really famous for a poem called ‘No Ordinary Sun’, which has been reprinted many, many times. And it was act of protest about nuclear war at that time was a huge concern. And just acknowledging that performance includes things like poetry and television drama.

  • Transcript — Complete curator’s talk | part 1

    Complete curator’s talk | part 1

    Kia ora. My name's Paul Diamond. I'm the Māori curator at the Alexander Turnbull Library, which is part of the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, and we are in the National Library gallery. In this exhibition, I was one of three curators Pūkana moments of Māori performance. So when you go into the gallery, you come into the biggest space in the gallery, which is an area that sort of sits out some of the foundational ideas of the exhibition. But there's an introduction panel, which has these two subtitles that the exhibition has got.

    So there's an English subtitled moments, Moments in Māori performance, which really came from my colleague Peter Ireland, who's the gallery specialist here at the library. And he said, well, all of us can remember moments when we encountered Māori performance and the way it made us feel. So we loved that because it gave us a way of structuring what was potentially huge and overwhelming to try and tell the story of Māori performance. We realized we just needed to tell a story, a collection of stories.

    But then there's also a Māori title, Pūkana, which you often hear all those tombs together, and there are three qualities associated with performance with Maori performance. And it's like a lot of Maori terms, they're hard to translate exactly. But te ihi is the idea of the quality — talks about the quality of the performance from the — of what the performer themselves produces. And then te wehi is the reaction that has on people seeing the performance and experiencing the performance and then to te wana is the state speaks to the, sort of, state that people are in after that performance happens. So those two ideas really work together.

    So one of the first things you see when you come into the space is two carved Māori figures, and these are called karetao. So one of the other curators, Vicki-Anne Heikell said to me, what about karetao, when we were thinking about our research. And I really didn't know much about what these are. I knew that they were translated in English as puppets, but I've, sort of, come to realize that there's a lot more to them.

    And the reason they're here is because they feature in some of the earliest stories of Māori performance. And they feature in a story that's quite intriguing because it's so old about a man called Tinirau and his wife Hineteiwaiwa, who had a child, and they needed a tohunga as part of the process of giving birth to the child. So Kae was this to tohunga who came and help them with the birth.
    And after the child was successfully born, they wanted to thank the tohunga. They gave him a piece of cooked whale meat from their pet whale Tutunui. And the tohunga was so amazed by this whale, he asked if he could ride at home. And so they let him do that.

    They weren't keen on that, but they let him do that. They gave him specific instructions on what he had to do to get on one side of the whale, to get off on the other side. He ignored that. The whale was exhausted and died, and he and his people ate the whale.

    Meanwhile back at the whale's home, the chief Tinirau and Hineteiwaiwa were wondering where the whale was. So Hineteiwaiwa and a group of women — apparently there was 40 women set off in a waka to find what had happened to the whale. And they didn't know what he looked like, the tohunga, but they knew he had a double tooth.

    So the woman when they arrived at this tohunga's village did all these performances, and the performances used waiata, haka. Apparently that was the first ever kapa haka group. They used these karetao, and they used taonga pūoro, traditional Maori instruments. And in the end, they did a very erotic rude explicit haka, and it made him smile.

    And so they identified who it was. They put a spell on the whole village, brought Kae, the tohunga, back to their village, and they built a replica of his house. And when he woke up, he thought he was in his own house and then they killed him. And that restored balance across those different communities.

    So the karetao are here, because they link us back to that old, old foundational story. And also I think for me learning a bit about that story is that performance always has a reason, even if it's just for fun and for entertainment. There's always a point to it the performers are always trying to get a reaction, or they're doing it for their own reason of why they're doing that performance.

    When we went to see this karetao from the Oldman collection, which is probably incredibly old that was bought by the New Zealand government from a collector in England in 1946, we noticed that Te Papa had another karetao that was donated by Alexander Turnbull. So Pūkana was the first of two centenary exhibitions commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Turnbull, the founding of the Turnbull Library. So the collection was given to the King, the country of New Zealand, in 1918 when Turnbull died, but the library didn't open till 1920. So there's a two year centenary period.

    So it turned out that this karetao was commissioned by Alexander Turnbull from Elsdon Best, the famous ethnographer, who did a lot of work in the Tuhoe area. And this karetao has ruatahuna tattooed on the back of her, which is part and the heart of Tuhoe's rahu or tribal area. And we found that we had, well, in it one letter from Alexander Turnbull to Elsdon Best, but it's the letter that he wrote in 1899 requesting that Best ask Māori in the area he was living to make various Maori items. And in the list of the items is a karetao for 14 shillings.

    So these two figures, which we are so privileged to have as part of the exhibition online from Te Papa are there for all these multiple reasons. They are acknowledging our founding donor, Alexander Turnbull. They tie us back to these really early foundational stories about performance, and it's just great that they're here with us for the duration of the exhibition.

    There's been a revival of karetao in recent years led by people, including a man called James Webster. So in the exhibition, we have photos of James and his wife performing with some of the karetao that he's been carving. And then we've also got material to do with another, sort of, rendition or a version of an old story and one maybe that's better known to people about Maui and his brothers and his exploits and how he fished up the North Island Te Ika-a-Māui, along with other things.

    But this was a production that was done by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, who are very well known young Māori performers. But this happened earlier on in their career when they were — they'd formed a group called the Humour Beasts. And what's interesting is that that was in the early 2000s when their own solo careers were really starting to take off, and Taika Waititi had done a short film called ‘Two Cars, One Night’. Jermaine Clement was in The Flight of the Conchords.

    But at that time, they also did this production called ‘The Untold Tales of Maui’. So what we have in the collection is a poster from that, which is mimicking the Māori land style that was used by Pākehā to sort of represent Māori. And it was a bit patronising, but what these guys have done is use that to answer back that, sort of, representation.

    So they've got two images of themselves that look a lot like daguerreotypes or really old prints. And the one of Taika has Māori prints and then the negative number just like prints in our collection and Jermaine's one has noble savage on it. So it's very, very clever, and this production was hugely successful. It was commissioned by Taki Rua theatre. It sold out before it opened at Bats, which is admittedly a small venue.

    Then it toured around the country. The Māori Women's Welfare League supported it to go to the South Island. And it was about Maui. It was set in the — it was set in the time of Michael Jackson and moon walking, and that main character played by Taika was a boy called Tama who lived with his father Tutanui. He was the son of Tutanui. And his mother didn't know what to do with them, because all he wanted to do was moonwalk every day.

    So she sent him to see his nanny, who was played by Jermaine Clement. And nanny had lost two legs at Chunuk Bair. So it was Jermaine kneeling in front — behind a blanket. And nanny told Tama about his illustrious ancestor Maori and all these things he'd done. And the two — these two actors played all the characters, and they played all of Maui's brothers and they used puppets. And all the brothers were called ‘Bro’.

    And then when Māori fished up the North Island. They said, ‘oh, Maui, you're a legend’. So I haven't even seen the production, because it was very — it was so popular, it was pretty hard to get tickets for this. But Ariana Tikao, who's another curator of this exhibition, did see it and can remember.

    But we've got colleagues here at the library who thought this poster was actually an old poster from the early 1900s. These guys have done such a clever job at representing that. So why this is here is, again, it links us into one of our old foundational stories from these ancient ancestors, but it also shows how Māori performance is happening over time, and it's sort of acknowledging and honoring two of our current practitioners in Māori performance.

    Moving from that section of the exhibition over to another part of this first gallery, there's a case with an incredible item in our collection. That's what our colleague Dr. Oliver Steed, who's our curator of drawings paintings and prints, said to us when we were researching for the exhibition as perhaps the first image of a Māori person in the Turnbull collections.

    So it's a sketch. It's a pencil drawing by William Wade Ellis, who was the surgeon's mate on Captain Cook's third voyage to New Zealand. So this is we're talking 1777 or possibly slightly later.

    And it's a Māori man, sort of, viewed from behind. And he's got one arm down, the other arm his right — his left arm — actually right as we look at it — in the air and he's holding a patu. So you can't see his face. You're looking at him from behind.

    And I thought that was interesting, because he's — it's a performance stance. He's maybe speaking. He might be doing a haka.

    But it's a, sort of, a gesture. He's gesturing to the people that we can't see that are out of the frame. When Ariana saw this, she was interested that it placed the viewer behind the man. So she said, ‘oh, it's like we're on his side’, the mana whenua or the home side, which made us think about one of our ideas for this exhibition is to try and see what's going on in these collections from a Māori perspective.

    And then it also reminded me of a quote from Barry Barclay, amazing Māori filmmaker, who talked about this idea of the camera on the shore, the camera Māori hands and the context of film making and saying what would that look like of Māori had recorded images themselves rather than people from the outside sort of recording images about Māori.

    So really it's introducing that idea that in this exhibition we're trying hard to look at our collections in multiple ways, not just from the perspective of the donors who overwhelmingly tend to be non-Māori from Alexander Turnbull forward.

    Beside that section of the exhibition is another section called He aha te pūkana?. What is pukana? Because Fiona Oliver, a colleague I sit next to, said, ‘Well, you probably need to include this, because some people will know what pukana is. Some people won't know’.

    So to introduce that idea to people that we've got some images of pukana. Now pukana is where in performance, the eyes move sort of up and down and sideways but the face remains stationary. And it's got all sorts of reasons why it's used in performance.

    So we've got a couple of very old images of pukana, and then we've got a couple of modern images with one as Jim Moriarty and another is George Henare, two still practicing Māori actors.

    So that's the, sort of, introductory section of Pūkana, and then the next room in their gallery is looking at really having established this idea of performance in ancient times. Where does it go to from there? And there's this idea of rhythm and movement and the origins of haka and poi.

    In Maori, our title is ‘Ngā mahi a Tānerorore raua ko hineruhi’. So Tānerorore is the, sort of, god to do with haka. And tānerorore is the idea that on a really, really hot day when you see — it's so hot you can see movement. You look out, and you can see movement.

    That's the idea of what wiri wiri performers, sort of, have their hands shimmering and shaking beside them. That's inspired by that idea of the sun on a hot day. And Hineruhi is another deity it says on our panel here. It's a deity found at dawn whose dances seem to be the sparkle of light that's reflected in the morning dew, and it's particularly associated with female performance.

    So Tānerorore is very associated with haka, and Hineruhi is very associated with female performance. So we've got some images of haka and poi. Vicki-Anne Heikell, my co-curator on Pūkana as part of our research found these — found two images that are quite beautiful, and they're side by side in the exhibition. One is of women doing poi in about 1910.

    So as was common at that time, they're wearing pupum, but they wear these big white blouses with big puffy sleeves that were called Mother Hubbard blouses. And they've got sashes and feathers in their hair actually. We don't know where this image was taken. It's supposed to be taken by a man called Joseph Zachariah who's not famous for his images of Māori. He's famous for his images of Wellington.

    But he did do one trip to Whanganui to photograph Maori. And we're wondering if this image, which is available online, was taken somewhere on the way up. Because there are hills in the background which could be the hills that you can see from bits of the Kapiti Coast. So that's a little mystery that maybe over the course of this exhibition, we might shed some light.

    And then Vicki-Anne placed that alongside a lino cut print by an artist called Hineahuane Coralee Cook, who's actually the mother of a former colleague of ours, Walter Cook. And it's a dance at Te Oriori marae in 1937. And it's a beautiful image, because there's a band playing in the top left corner, and there are people dancing. So it's lovely seeing performance in a Māori context, like a wharenui, but also Vicki-Anne sort of liked the sensuality and the idea of performance happening in a private intimate space like that.

    So this section carries on and looks at continuity and change over time. We've got a very early image of men performing a haka by William Strut from 1855 to 56. So the men are wearing ammunition belts on their waists. They're, sort of, mid-haka. They've got one arm up, all of them. And they're not just holding Māori weapons. They're holding rifles and actually swords, cutlasses and things.

    That was interesting once we sort of looked at that sort of mixing of European and Māori items. But then when we put that alongside an image by our colleague, Dylan Owen, Peter Ireland spotted that there were real visual resonances between that struck image and Dylan's image, which is of boys performing haka at parliament in 2015. And that was when a whole lot of schoolchildren came to Wellington to protest about not being — there not being a national day to commemorate the New Zealand wars.

    And it was fascinating to see those two together, and that was the great thing about working on this exhibition as part of a team is that you got the chance for those sort of connections to be made. Then below those two images and in this part of the exhibition is an image by an artist called John Gilfilian of a woman standing up from a group of men doing haka. So it's a pencil drawing, and the woman has, sort of, come out.

    Now this might be a thing called manananahu, which is a custom that's in the process of being revived at the moment where the woman comes out of the main group and, sort of, gestures challenges the other group and then she goes back into the main group. That could be what's happening here, but then we put that alongside women in the South Island at the opening of the Tuhuru Meeting House, which I think is in Hokitika. It's on the west coast of the South Island. This is Ngāti Waewae.

    Because Ariana who's from Ngai Tahu, remembered that this had happened, and the women there doing the whero, which is they're practically the only iwi that does this. This is really unusual. And it's a revival, again, of an old custom. So we've put those two alongside each other.

    What this section is also looking at is when performance comes out of a Māori setting and goes beyond that into the pakeha world, into the European world. So we've got Katherine Mansfield's poi that perhaps she collected as a tourist to some part of New Zealand, and we've put that alongside images of the 1978 engineers haka that the next year when that was — this is at Auckland University. Haka over time had become pretty debased and offensive.

    The engineers didn't think there was any problem with that, but Māori in the late 70s were very unhappy about that. And a lot of people had asked for it to be stopped. It carried on, and while they were rehearsing there was a big attack by a group who were called He Taua. And there was a big inquiry into race relations. There were court cases.

    So we've got those two there to talk about what happens when you take Māori performance out of a Māori setting into different settings. And on the opposite wall in this area, those ideas are really developed. And the section called ‘Whiua ki te ao’, ‘Taking Māori to the world’. And ‘Whiua ki te ao’ comes from a waiata actually called ‘Whakarongo’, which is celebrating Maori language.

    And in this section, there are — there's a poster for a performance by a Māori group who were in England and Scotland in the 1860s. And they're probably the first group of Māori performers who came via Melbourne and Sydney and then were taken up to England. And strangely there was another group of Māori in England at exactly the same time.

    And they weren't strictly speaking performers. They were taken with a man called William Jenkins who was a lay preacher. And he — he was apparently quite conscious that he didn't want them to be seen as performers, but he was giving illustrated talks about New Zealand and he wanted them to kind of illustrate the talks. So they, kind of, were performers.

    His trip was a disaster financially in all sorts of ways. He feell out with the group. They ran out of money. They had to live with in a charitable institution. Two of the people in that group though did meet — when the group met Queen Victoria, two of the group, a husband and wife, Hareate and Harepomare, when Hareate was pregnant, Queen Victoria noticed that she was pregnant and, kind of, asked for them to have special treatment. She arranged for their accommodation and was very involved in the — after the birth of their child who was called Albert Victoria after her late son.

    So they had a better time of it, but the rest of the group had a really hard time. Three of them actually left and went to the other group. But below the image of some of the group with William Jenkins, we've got an image of a group of people with a woman who was like the superstar — singing superstar of her day, Princess Te Rangi Pai, who's one of the performers we featured in the performing Korea section of this exhibition. She's there with Maggie Papakura Makereti, and her sister, Bella, both famous guides from Whakarewarewa from Rotorua.

    And they took concert parties to Australia and England, and Princess Te Rangi Pai had a successful career. People may not have heard of her, but they've probably heard of one of the songs that she wrote ‘Hine e hine’ or the goodnight kiwi theme, which a song that we still sing which I think is amazing.

    We've got these women there to sort of acknowledged that later on Māori had different experiences of taking their perform their performing cultures to the world. And these women had more say over how their performance was taken to the world.

    We've got Johnny Cooper's concert poster for a variety show in Greymouth in 1957. When Johnny Cooper was one of the headline acts, he was known as the Maori cowboy. He came down from Wairoa to Wellington. Actually worked as a grave digger while he was, sort of, developing his musical career. Loved country music and recorded New Zealand's, one of the first recordings in New Zealand for rock — the New Zealand version of ‘Rock around the clock’.

    But he went on to run talent shows, which in a pre-TV age were hugely important. And it's amazing he went to Māori centers. And there were so many Māori in the photos.

    And it's also acknowledging that before he passed away in the early I think it was 2004 he died, he donated and sold his collection to the Turnbull Library. So all through this exhibition we're sort of acknowledging that people who've trusted us with their collections.

    Finally, in this section there's a little part – somber part really about the connection between performance and grief, the pare kawakawa, which is the greenery that's worn during times of mourning. And, in fact, you can see the greenery. And one of the – there are three photos in this section, and one of them is Ripeka Love from Te Ati Awa, and in 1946 when Welcome to the Māori Battalion was happening on the waterfront on the wharf in Wellington.

    And below that is an image that Vicki-Anne found of the Awatere Māori Choir singing for the Kiwi Request Session at the British Forces Radio Station in Bari in Italy. And what those women were tangi-ing about was the return of those soldiers and, of course, the soldiers who hadn't come back or the soldiers who'd been wounded. And some of those are the men below though during the war sort of recording and singing and recording messages for people back at home.

    Then the last image in the section about performance and grief is an image from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March 2019, which was something that happened while we were researching for ‘Pūkana’. And it was a horrendous thing to happen while we were thinking about Māori performance, but it was so significant we were thinking about ways of including it. We came across an image of schoolchildren doing haka outside one of the mosques, the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.

    And this photo was taken by Associated Press by Vincent Tien, a photographer of Associated Press, which actually meant we had to buy this photo to use it. But again, remembering those foundational ideas in this exhibition of trying to see collections from a Māori perspective, we tried to find out who these girls were. Because the photo focuses on two girls.

    And we knew that the uniforms were Christchurch girls I think in Rangiura. And because Ariana Tikao, one of the other curators, is from Christchurch, she activated her networks and through funding their mothers we found out that this is Nakisha Kingi and Azaria Thompson. So that's a great example of ways that you can make the collections.

    You can make the collections work a bit harder, and you can ask different questions of the collections. And we've collected the websites with this image. This image went all around the world. It's been – on millions of websites.
    But it's great to have that information, and we've made contact with the girls. And one of them has actually written to us with her memories of that day. So it's – we might sort of revise our label and interpretation for this section. So, particularly the influence of Ariana really on me, that idea of always challenging yourself and not just thinking, oh, well, we don't have much that's actually collected by Māori, generated by Māori. You can actually ask different questions of the collections and tell different stories.

    And then moving into the next section of the exhibition, which is called Ngā Puna Waihanga, which has, sort of, got a double meaning. Ngā Puna Waihanga was an organisation coming together of Māori artists and writers in 1973, and it was quite unusual for art to be organised like that. That wasn't how European art was organised in New Zealand. But at that time, the Māori artists and writers wanted to come together. And they had these hui all around the country, and they have donated their collection to the Alexander Turnbull library.

    But the other double meaning for this is this idea of looking at the actual meaning of that, the puna. It's the, sort of, wellspring sources of growth and looking at the revival of Māori art. And just at the beginning of this section is a magnificent artwork by Para Matchitt that was actually purchased by the library, the National Library in 1987 – so the National Library used to have its own art collection – and it's called ‘Ka mate’. It's actual full name is: Ka mate, Ka ora! Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā! Upane, kaupane. Whiti te rā! From the haka, Ka mate.

    So it's linking back actually to the earlier section about haka and poi, that iconic nere, or haka, that's really well known in part because of our national rugby team, the All Blacks, but also acknowledging Para, one of our senior Māori artists, and also was the head of Ngā Puna Waihanga for many years.

    So in that section, we've got some examples of photos from Ngā Puna Waihanga hui and we've decided to focus on two aspects of Ngā Puna Waihanga. Taonga pūoro revival, so Ariana Tikao who helped curate this exhibition and is also a Taonga pūoro player herself, she found a sequence of photos actually in Richard Nunns’ collection, which is a fantastic collection that Richard Nunns, a musician and performer and someone very involved in the revival of Taonga pūoro together with Hirini Melbourne.

    Richard donated his collection to the Turnbull, but in that collection there's photos of someone else. And this is a man called Te Mauri o Te Tiriti o Waitangi Tirikatene. So this is Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s brother playing the pūtōrino, one of the taonga pūoro. So these were negatives, and Ariana found these. And we've had them digitised, and they've been made into a fantastic frieze that's been printed so that you can actually see the whole sequence.

    We've got images of taonga pūoro at Ngā Puna Waihanga hui. We've got correspondence from Richard Nunns to Margaret Orbell. Now Margaret Orbell was a pakeha woman who did a huge amount of work on Māori myths and legends and a whole lot of different Māori kaupapa. Her collection was donated by her family after her death, and the letter is from Richard to Margaret asking if she had any information about taonga pūoro because he was getting ready to do a performance. This is in 1985, so it's great to think of how that revival kind of developed from there.

    And we've got a recording of it's called ‘Traditional music of the Māori’, and it featured this kuia Paeroa Wineera, who apparently was one of the last people before the revival who knew how to play taonga pūoro. And also coincidentally on that album is singing by a woman called Hannah Tatana who was one of the wonderful discoveries for us in this exhibition, a contralto singer who trained in New Zealand in the 1960s and is now based overseas. So she's another of the performers that we are featuring.

    And then finally in this Ngā Puna Waihanga section there are two key figures in Ngā Puna Waihanga that we are featuring, Hone Tuwhare, and we have an image, a beautiful image by Ans Westa. We have a series of images from Ans’ huge collection of photographs here. And then we've also got a man called Rowley Habib, who is a playwright, he was the first Māori to write a television drama for television and was a poet and writer as well. And we've got examples of their work here as well.

    And Hone is really famous for a poem called ‘No Ordinary Sun’, which has been reprinted many, many times. And it was act of protest about nuclear war at that time was a huge concern. And just acknowledging that performance includes things like poetry and television drama.

  • Transcript — Complete curator’s talk | part 2

    Complete curator’s talk | part 2

    Then the next part of the exhibition is called Ngā pou Wāhine. And it's kind of acknowledging that, yes, there was a revival happening, but sometimes performance has happened in a context of protest and pushing up against norms. And Vicki-Anne Heikell as part of her curation of ‘Pūkana’ identified two beautiful photographs here in the exhibition are placed side by side. One is of Nancy Brunning, the actor, as part of the Downstage Theatre production of ‘Waiora’. So, Downstage Theatre have deposited their collection with the Turnbull Library.

    So Nancy's sort of – it captures Nancy mid-movement. She’s sort of, twirling around. Her dress is, sort of, moving – it’s in motion and her hair’s in motion – and her arms are up.

    It's a beautiful image, kind of, a bit like the image in a different section of ‘Pūkana’ which captures women doing poi and their piu piu moving as they're doing that. Beside this image of Nancy Brunning is an image of Tuaiwa or Eva Rickard and she's dancing at Moutoa Gardens, which was occupied in 1995. So Māori occupied Moutoa Gardens in protest about that land – what had happened to that land.

    And we, kind of, like – we've put these two images together to sort of acknowledge that there is theatre in protest, and then also protest came into theatre. Because what happened in Māori theatre is that the grievances, the take, the kaupapa, of the protest movement came into the theatre. And when you started to go to Māori theatre from sort of this 80s, 90s at least as early as that, there were things like powhiri and haka and waiata, which hadn't really happened before in theatre. So that's what we're doing in these two images that we're setting up the sort of foundational ideas of the section.

    ‘Ngā pou Wāhine’ is the name of a play by Briar Grace-Smith, who's been a key figure in Māori theatre, the revival of Māori theatre. And at the National Library, we have some tukutuku panels. And some of them were actually made by Briar Grace-Smith. So there's the chance to see one of these here, and it's called Roimata Toroa or Tears of the Albatross. So it's a tukutuku panel, but it's also got feathers on it as well.

    So it's wonderful to be able to see this, because this has been in storage for many years and not many people have had a chance to see it.

    Then in this exhibition, which is looking at the connection between performance and protest, we've got material to do with Herbs and reggae and acknowledging the connections between people like Bob Marley when he came to New Zealand and then groups that were inspired by him like Dread Beat an' Blood. And this is a photo of David Grace, a photo of a – sorry, a copy of a poster – for when Herbs, the group Aotearoa, and Dread Beat an' Blood all performed at Victoria University.

    And then we're also looking at ‘Once Were Warriors’, because we're conscious that it's the anniversary of that film coming out and Communicado Features deposited the production archive of that film with the Turnbull Library. So there's a photo in this section of Rena Owen who was one of the actors in the film with Riwia Brown, who wrote the screenplay based on Alan Duff's book. So we've also got, for example, an image in this ‘Pūkana’ section, the image of George Henare doing pukana is from when George Henare played the social worker in that film. So you've, sort of, got these references threaded through the exhibition.

    The last part of this performance and protest section Ngā pou Wāhine is devoted to Carmen, who we thought really lived her life in a way that could be seen as an act of protest. Because it took a lot of courage to live your life like she did at that time and that she created a space for other performers like Mika. So we've got a poster for this production that was on in 1994 during the Hero Festival in Auckland, and it was Carmen and Mika performing together. It was called ‘Carmen's International Coffee Lounge’.

    And in the case, we've got a photo album. Carmen deposited her collection with us and with Te Papa and we have this fantastic collection of photos. But it's even more fantastic, because Carmen went through and wrote on the back of the photos. She also wrote in the album. So there's a lot of really valuable information in this album, and the whole album has been digitised because we were conscious that it's not easy for people to see it once it's in the exhibition for eight months. So that's available online.

    And in the case with that album – photo album – we've got a book and a poem by one of the really exciting poets and artists at the moment a woman called Tayi Tibble and her poem ‘Identity politics’ from 2018. And that comes from her book, ‘Poūkahangatus’, which has a stunning cover which is in the case. And when Vicki-Anne pointed this out to me, she said, you know although you can see that things kind of have changed a lot from those early, sort of, activists and protesters. When you read Tayi’s poem, which is available online, you can see that some of the ideas really haven't changed even among the young people coming through.

    In the exhibition, we have a few slideshows. And one of them is of our colleague Dylan Owen, who works in the Services to Schools section, photos he's taken, because Dylan also has a career as a photographer. And Dylan has documented protests and events, mostly in Wellington, but also in other parts of the country, since 2002. And he has donated his collection over time to the Library as well.

    So we've got a selection of some of Dylan's images of performance, sometimes in the context of protests, but also other contexts as well. So things like the anniversary of the Public Service Association and students from a Kura Kaupapa Māori, Te Kura Māori o Porirua, performing.

    Then we look there's a section with images of Māori and guitars, because looking at where did – how did the guitar end up being so central in Māori performance.

    So this is a collection of, sort of, two sets of images, a set of four images from very early on and then six images from much later on. So in the early images, there's an image of one of the black minstrel groups who came through New Zealand in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and who apparently had a real strong connection with Māori. And also they found it a curious experience being in New Zealand having been so discriminated against in America to come to New Zealand where, not to say there was no discrimination, but it was quite different in terms of things like coloured bars and things.

    But we love this photo, because as well as the banjo in the photo with the singers, there's a guitar. And then we have an image of Tai Paul and his Pohutu Boys in Whakarewarewa meeting house. So this was donated to us by Chris Bourke, who's a historian and writer, who was a great help to us in researching the exhibition. And he actually very generously donated this image, which is in his ‘Blue Smoke’ book.

    And it's a fascinating image, because it's acknowledging one of the key groups in the Māori show bands phenomenon. And actually a lot of those show bands are famous for having performed overseas, but this was a group that performed in Whakarewarewa and apparently Howard Morrison's parents would go along to this group. And it's acknowledging that that is part of this whole incredible tradition of show bands – Howard Morrison, Tai Paul's son, Rim D. Paul, went on to perform in show bands as well.

    Then the final two images is an image we know very, very little about. Its four men standing with a violin, a cello, a horn, and also a guitar. And we really don't know much about them, just that they're an unidentified group of Māori men with musical instruments, date unknown. It would be great if as a result of things like ‘Pūkana’ that we might learn a little bit more about these.

    There's also an image in the section of Inia Te Wiata, who was a very famous Māori base singer but also before that was a part of the Methodist Māori Choir, which was sort of how his singing talent got noted. But he's in a photo with another man, but he's standing holding a guitar.

    Inia Te Wiata is a very good segue to one of the last parts of the exhibition, which is celebrating a production of the Gershwin opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. This was performed in New Zealand in 1965, and it toured around the country. It also went on to tour in Australia.

    And it's really significant, because it was the first time that the Gershwin estate had allowed ‘Porgy and Bess’ to be performed by anyone other than a black American cast, because part of the will of the Gershwins was that it could only ever be performed by black Americans. But the trust, the estate, agreed that it could be performed by Māori. So Inia Te Wiata who was based in London came back to New Zealand, and three American soloists came out because they really weren't sure that there were enough Māori singers who could handle the, sort of, quite demanding tour that they were doing, sometimes multiple performances each day.

    And so the whole of the chorus was Māori. They went all around the country to find singers, and we have – there was unfortunately no recording of this production, which is incredibly sad. There is, though, a set of images taken by a man called John Ashton, who was contracted by the New Zealand Opera Company, which commissioned this production to document the dress rehearsals in Wellington. So we have one of the images – we actually of a slideshow with a selection of images – but we've got a beautiful print of one of the images.

    And it's during the storm scene in the opera where there is a – because the opera’s set in the sort of South of America which is susceptible to storms – and a lot of the men in the village go out fishing, and there's a cyclone. And while there's a cyclone, there was actually an early revolving set. The house revolved around. And so you could see all the people from the village sheltering in this woman's house.

    So what's interesting in that is there's a group of people sheltering from the storm. There's Inia Te Wiata and Martha Flowers who played Bess sitting on the ground. But amongst the Māori that you can see in the image are Māori that we've featured in 'Pūkana'. So standing behind Inia is George Henare, who, at that time, was a teenager. He was at Teachers College, and as a result of this production he decided to give up training to be a teacher and actually became an actor, not staying with opera.

    Beside Inia, sort of, by the, sort of, sheltering from the storm again is a woman called Hannah Tatana, who, major discovery for us, famous contralto singer training at the same time as Kiri Te Kanawa but five years older than her. Standing beside Hannah Tatana is a woman called Isabel Cowan who was an extraordinary soprano singer. So what happened as a result of this production was that the whole kind of growth of Māori theater that we're also celebrating in 'Pūkana', happened.

    And Inia's wife, Beryl, has written that he was determined that Māori should have this opportunity to show that they could do more than singing and concert parties and kapa haka and playing the guitar. And Hannah Tatana has said that as a result of this production, things like radio drama, Māori involved in opera, Māori theater, all these things sort of happened. So that's why we've got ‘Porgy and Bess’ so prominently acknowledged in 'Pūkana'.

    We've got the poster. There's a beautiful poster that people can see online from the original posters in the exhibition. And then in a case in the section, are some of the projects that followed on from ‘Porgy and Bess’ and they're to do with translations of Shakespeare that were done by an amazing Māori scholar and leader, Pei Te Hurinui Jones, who translated ‘The Merchant of Venice’, 'Te tangata whai rawa o Weneti', and Don Selwyn who was in ‘Porgy and Bess’ and went on to become an actor, knew that Pei had done these translations in the 1940s, and they'd sort of – he published them himself – he actually couldn't get the money for them to be properly published.

    Don knew that that translation was there, and he led the production of the film 'Te tangata whai rawa o Weneti', 'The Māori Merchant of Venice', which was a hugely successful film which also followed a staged production that Don led as well.

    And then also in the case we've got a couple of images by a young Māori photographer, Te Rawhitiroa Bosch, who recorded another production, not – of a translation – not by Pei Jones but by a woman called Te Haumihiata Mason of ‘Troilus and Cressida’. And this was led by Rawiri Paratene and went on to be performed at the Globe Theater in London after it toured here.

    What also struck us was that some of the people in this production as a result of being together have gone on to form the Modern Māori Quartet. And it sort of made me think, well, this is just like ‘Porgy and Bess’. Māori get together for one kaupapa, and then other things come out of it.

    And then the last part of the exhibition is a wee section looking at the connections between Māori and Pacifica. So early on in the research, I found an article by a man called Christopher Balme, who looked at the 1906 Christchurch exhibition. So this was a huge exhibition that a huge number of New Zealanders visited, and it was in Hedley Park in Christchurch.

    And as part of that exhibition, there was a Māori village in Hedley Park. And the government also invited Pacific Islanders from the Cook Islands, from Rarotonga and Fiji. And there's a photo of Māori Fijians after a fire walking ceremony and Rarotongans meeting pakeha. And they're all, sort of, in their traditional dress, including the pakeha, who are in their silk top hats and formal dress.

    And Christopher Balme in an article I found talked about how quoting from he said the juxtaposition of the Māori and Pacific Islanders in the same space was designed to demonstrate a double political and cultural strategy. He said more than 100 years later – or we've said, sorry – more than 100 years later politics and culture remain at the heart of pan Polynesian cultural identity but with different drivers.

    Because Christopher Balme said you can trace a line from that exhibition in Christchurch and get to the Naked Samoans and to bro'Town. And we suddenly realised there are all of these interconnections between Māori and Pacific peoples.

    So beside that image of the Rangitira from the Pacific and pakeha, ngati pakeha greeting each other, we've got one of Dylan Owens images of women performing – sorry – protesting about West Papua. And that's outside Te Papa in 2015.

    Really striking image of these women with the West Papuan flag used as a, sort of, a bandana around their faces. They're wearing – I think they're called paraou, the garment – black garments. And actually you can't see from the image, but there are some images of Dylan's where you can see that actually from behind their hands are tied.

    Then in a case below those images, there's the program for the first New Zealand Polynesian Festival, which became Matatini, the Māori Kapa Haka Performing Arts Festival. But what we didn't realise was that the first few festivals were actually altogether they were Māori and Pacifica so and were for quite a few years. So that was interesting, and then we've got a image by Julia Brooke White who's donated photos from her collection to the Turnbull Library of Māori woman performing with palm trees in the background, because that's because they're at the 7th festival of Pacific arts.

    So actually, although Polynesian Pacific island performance is no longer part of Matatini, there is still very close connections between Māori and Pacifica. And for example, the upcoming festival of Pacific arts, in fact, it's now common practice for each of those festivals, the winning team at Matatini goes to represent New Zealand.

    And at the very end of the exhibition is a section dedicated to the work of Ans Westra a very famous New Zealand documentary photographer who has donated her collection to the Turnbull Library.

    It's been digitised, and in this section we thought we would look at some of the photos that she's taken that have Māori performance. And you don't actually have to look very hard in Ans' collection to see Māori performance. Because when she was capturing Māori life, she was capturing performance. So there's a slideshow, sort of inspired by seeing the outdoor area at Suite Gallery in Wellington who represent, and they've got some giant visions of Ans’ images reproduced on walls outside.

    And I thought, well, they looked incredible, and I hadn't realised the power that they have when they're large. So, working with Ans and her sister Yvonne and David also from Suite Gallery, we've put together this collection of images from Ans’ collection featuring Māori performance.

    And then there are two beautiful prints that Yvonne has made of Ans’ images, two very famous images.

    One is of children performing at the Whatatutu Primary School, which is near Gisbourne in 1963. And it's an image of these kids who've got this band that they've made. One of the boys has a drum. The other one is singing on a microphone that's actually a baking powder tin. And she just captures this amazing moment. The kids are standing in front of the blackboard, and particularly the boy singing into the microphone is performing.

    And then we're also looking at another image of Ans’ of the same year actually. It's 1963, at Tūrangawaewae in Ngaruawahia. And in between the formalities of the coronation commemorations, which Ans photographed for many years, there would be these dances called kopikopi, which is only done in that part of the country by Tainui. And kopikopi is your belly, and it's a dance where women move their bellies.

    And it's not – it's not a formal planned thing – it's just something that happens in the gaps. And Ans took a lot of photos of these women doing the kopikopi but then she noticed that there was something happening in front of the meeting house, Ma hinaarangi. And she captured this moment where there's a woman dancing. There's a woman beside her playing the harmonica, and then Canon Wi Huata, Anglican minister is leaning forward with the microphone so that the woman playing the harmonica can be heard. That image has become incredibly famous.

    So what we – the final part of this exhibition, the section on the exhibition about Ans’ work is an enlargement of the two contact sheets that Ans has donated to the library to see – so that people can see the sequence of the photos and how this photo – the photo that's famous is part of a series. And you actually see how Ans actually worked as a photographer and also her huge skill, because every single one of these images is beautiful.

    So we've got those two famous images. And then in a case, we've got the actual contact sheets themselves. Because not just young people actually, but lots of people wouldn't even know what a contact sheet was. And that also the square format is unusual too that Ans was working in. So the four shots that she had on every, sort of, roll of film she was working with. And then she printed the contact sheets so that people could see what was on the films.

    So the idea for this exhibition came from Chris Szekely, who is the chief librarian of the Turnbull Library. And he asked us if we were interested in this idea about an exhibition on Māori performance. And he said really the only two parameters for us were that we really try hard to just use our collections to, sort of, celebrate our anniversary, but that we also try and have particular appeal to young Maori 15 to 35.

    And that's – I mean, I'm not 15 to 35, so we'll have to see. The jury's out on that one, but we've been gratified by the response we've had so far.

    But maybe just to finish I could read out a quote from Ans, because when we told Ans what we were doing, she got it straight away. And she emailed us back, and she said you know about – speaking about the exhibition Pūkana – she said, “I would love to see this exhibition dance. Make people smile. I feel that we need that just now. All that talent among Māori, let's celebrate”.

    And that’s it. Pūkana in a nutshell. Kia ora.

    But actually, something I should also mention, a final section is we've highlighted a number of Māori performers. And it's called ngā tangata mīharo. You know, mīharo is amazement, and the amazing people, these people who've had these extraordinary performing careers. So they're also referred to right through the exhibition.

    So Alien Weaponry, who are a thrash metal band who sing in Māori, they kind of represent the kind of end point of sort of the incredible things happening in Māori performance now. If we kind of begin with the women in Hine-te-iwaiwa, when the other women were performing haka to make Kae smile in, sort of, ancient times – Alien Weaponry is the other end.

    And also acknowledging that they're very young those guys. They're at the beginning of their careers. Johnny Cooper, the Māori cowboy who's donated his collection to the Turnbull and whose talent quests are also mentioned in the exhibition, Tina Cross, who won the Pacific Song Contest with – well, actually Carl Doy won the Pacific Song Contest with a song called 'Nothing but Dreams' in 1979, sung by Tina Cross – but she's gone on to have this incredible career as a performer.

    And she has performed at the library. She was at the opening of the exhibition. George Henare, who was in 'Porgy and Bess' was in 'Once Were Warriors'. He's all through this exhibition. Princess Te Rangi Pai, Fanny Rose Howie was her other name – Te Rangi Pai was her stage name – superstar of her day, may not be so well known now as she was in the early 1900s. But we still sing songs that she wrote including ‘Hine e hine’... Moana Maniapoto. A man who performed with Te Rangi Pai, Edward Hatiwiri Pahura Rangiuia, his stage name was Chieftain Rangiuia. So you're acknowledging that there were early on, not many, but there were some Māori performers who really broke through and had international profiles. He was well known in Australia, Paris, as well as England.

    Taiaroa Royal, who has had an extraordinary career in many different dance companies in New Zealand and then founded the Okareka Māori Dance Company. Hannah Tatana, who's now known as Hannah Stappard, so trained with the famous nun teacher at St Mary's in Auckland, Sister Mary Leo. So we've got some photos of her training with Sister Mary Leo taken by Ans Westra, but another Ans Westra photo of Hannah with Kiri Te Kanawa. So they were both training at the same time, and Ans photographed them at the first Māori Festival of the Arts at Ngaruawahia in 1963.

    Marlon Williams, another one of the contemporary performers, and then Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who's had a remarkable career. And she's begun depositing her collection of, starting with her orchestral scores for the arrangements of Māori songs and other songs, other music that she's recorded as a singer.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

  • Transcript — Complete curator’s talk | part 2

    Complete curator’s talk | part 2

    Then the next part of the exhibition is called Ngā pou Wāhine. And it's kind of acknowledging that, yes, there was a revival happening, but sometimes performance has happened in a context of protest and pushing up against norms. And Vicki-Anne Heikell as part of her curation of ‘Pūkana’ identified two beautiful photographs here in the exhibition are placed side by side. One is of Nancy Brunning, the actor, as part of the Downstage Theatre production of ‘Waiora’. So, Downstage Theatre have deposited their collection with the Turnbull Library.

    So Nancy's sort of – it captures Nancy mid-movement. She’s sort of, twirling around. Her dress is, sort of, moving – it’s in motion and her hair’s in motion – and her arms are up.

    It's a beautiful image, kind of, a bit like the image in a different section of ‘Pūkana’ which captures women doing poi and their piu piu moving as they're doing that. Beside this image of Nancy Brunning is an image of Tuaiwa or Eva Rickard and she's dancing at Moutoa Gardens, which was occupied in 1995. So Māori occupied Moutoa Gardens in protest about that land – what had happened to that land.

    And we, kind of, like – we've put these two images together to sort of acknowledge that there is theatre in protest, and then also protest came into theatre. Because what happened in Māori theatre is that the grievances, the take, the kaupapa, of the protest movement came into the theatre. And when you started to go to Māori theatre from sort of this 80s, 90s at least as early as that, there were things like powhiri and haka and waiata, which hadn't really happened before in theatre. So that's what we're doing in these two images that we're setting up the sort of foundational ideas of the section.

    ‘Ngā pou Wāhine’ is the name of a play by Briar Grace-Smith, who's been a key figure in Māori theatre, the revival of Māori theatre. And at the National Library, we have some tukutuku panels. And some of them were actually made by Briar Grace-Smith. So there's the chance to see one of these here, and it's called Roimata Toroa or Tears of the Albatross. So it's a tukutuku panel, but it's also got feathers on it as well.

    So it's wonderful to be able to see this, because this has been in storage for many years and not many people have had a chance to see it.

    Then in this exhibition, which is looking at the connection between performance and protest, we've got material to do with Herbs and reggae and acknowledging the connections between people like Bob Marley when he came to New Zealand and then groups that were inspired by him like Dread Beat an' Blood. And this is a photo of David Grace, a photo of a – sorry, a copy of a poster – for when Herbs, the group Aotearoa, and Dread Beat an' Blood all performed at Victoria University.

    And then we're also looking at ‘Once Were Warriors’, because we're conscious that it's the anniversary of that film coming out and Communicado Features deposited the production archive of that film with the Turnbull Library. So there's a photo in this section of Rena Owen who was one of the actors in the film with Riwia Brown, who wrote the screenplay based on Alan Duff's book. So we've also got, for example, an image in this ‘Pūkana’ section, the image of George Henare doing pukana is from when George Henare played the social worker in that film. So you've, sort of, got these references threaded through the exhibition.

    The last part of this performance and protest section Ngā pou Wāhine is devoted to Carmen, who we thought really lived her life in a way that could be seen as an act of protest. Because it took a lot of courage to live your life like she did at that time and that she created a space for other performers like Mika. So we've got a poster for this production that was on in 1994 during the Hero Festival in Auckland, and it was Carmen and Mika performing together. It was called ‘Carmen's International Coffee Lounge’.

    And in the case, we've got a photo album. Carmen deposited her collection with us and with Te Papa and we have this fantastic collection of photos. But it's even more fantastic, because Carmen went through and wrote on the back of the photos. She also wrote in the album. So there's a lot of really valuable information in this album, and the whole album has been digitised because we were conscious that it's not easy for people to see it once it's in the exhibition for eight months. So that's available online.

    And in the case with that album – photo album – we've got a book and a poem by one of the really exciting poets and artists at the moment a woman called Tayi Tibble and her poem ‘Identity politics’ from 2018. And that comes from her book, ‘Poūkahangatus’, which has a stunning cover which is in the case. And when Vicki-Anne pointed this out to me, she said, you know although you can see that things kind of have changed a lot from those early, sort of, activists and protesters. When you read Tayi’s poem, which is available online, you can see that some of the ideas really haven't changed even among the young people coming through.

    In the exhibition, we have a few slideshows. And one of them is of our colleague Dylan Owen, who works in the Services to Schools section, photos he's taken, because Dylan also has a career as a photographer. And Dylan has documented protests and events, mostly in Wellington, but also in other parts of the country, since 2002. And he has donated his collection over time to the Library as well.

    So we've got a selection of some of Dylan's images of performance, sometimes in the context of protests, but also other contexts as well. So things like the anniversary of the Public Service Association and students from a Kura Kaupapa Māori, Te Kura Māori o Porirua, performing.

    Then we look there's a section with images of Māori and guitars, because looking at where did – how did the guitar end up being so central in Māori performance.

    So this is a collection of, sort of, two sets of images, a set of four images from very early on and then six images from much later on. So in the early images, there's an image of one of the black minstrel groups who came through New Zealand in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and who apparently had a real strong connection with Māori. And also they found it a curious experience being in New Zealand having been so discriminated against in America to come to New Zealand where, not to say there was no discrimination, but it was quite different in terms of things like coloured bars and things.

    But we love this photo, because as well as the banjo in the photo with the singers, there's a guitar. And then we have an image of Tai Paul and his Pohutu Boys in Whakarewarewa meeting house. So this was donated to us by Chris Bourke, who's a historian and writer, who was a great help to us in researching the exhibition. And he actually very generously donated this image, which is in his ‘Blue Smoke’ book.

    And it's a fascinating image, because it's acknowledging one of the key groups in the Māori show bands phenomenon. And actually a lot of those show bands are famous for having performed overseas, but this was a group that performed in Whakarewarewa and apparently Howard Morrison's parents would go along to this group. And it's acknowledging that that is part of this whole incredible tradition of show bands – Howard Morrison, Tai Paul's son, Rim D. Paul, went on to perform in show bands as well.

    Then the final two images is an image we know very, very little about. Its four men standing with a violin, a cello, a horn, and also a guitar. And we really don't know much about them, just that they're an unidentified group of Māori men with musical instruments, date unknown. It would be great if as a result of things like ‘Pūkana’ that we might learn a little bit more about these.

    There's also an image in the section of Inia Te Wiata, who was a very famous Māori base singer but also before that was a part of the Methodist Māori Choir, which was sort of how his singing talent got noted. But he's in a photo with another man, but he's standing holding a guitar.

    Inia Te Wiata is a very good segue to one of the last parts of the exhibition, which is celebrating a production of the Gershwin opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. This was performed in New Zealand in 1965, and it toured around the country. It also went on to tour in Australia.

    And it's really significant, because it was the first time that the Gershwin estate had allowed ‘Porgy and Bess’ to be performed by anyone other than a black American cast, because part of the will of the Gershwins was that it could only ever be performed by black Americans. But the trust, the estate, agreed that it could be performed by Māori. So Inia Te Wiata who was based in London came back to New Zealand, and three American soloists came out because they really weren't sure that there were enough Māori singers who could handle the, sort of, quite demanding tour that they were doing, sometimes multiple performances each day.

    And so the whole of the chorus was Māori. They went all around the country to find singers, and we have – there was unfortunately no recording of this production, which is incredibly sad. There is, though, a set of images taken by a man called John Ashton, who was contracted by the New Zealand Opera Company, which commissioned this production to document the dress rehearsals in Wellington. So we have one of the images – we actually of a slideshow with a selection of images – but we've got a beautiful print of one of the images.

    And it's during the storm scene in the opera where there is a – because the opera’s set in the sort of South of America which is susceptible to storms – and a lot of the men in the village go out fishing, and there's a cyclone. And while there's a cyclone, there was actually an early revolving set. The house revolved around. And so you could see all the people from the village sheltering in this woman's house.

    So what's interesting in that is there's a group of people sheltering from the storm. There's Inia Te Wiata and Martha Flowers who played Bess sitting on the ground. But amongst the Māori that you can see in the image are Māori that we've featured in 'Pūkana'. So standing behind Inia is George Henare, who, at that time, was a teenager. He was at Teachers College, and as a result of this production he decided to give up training to be a teacher and actually became an actor, not staying with opera.

    Beside Inia, sort of, by the, sort of, sheltering from the storm again is a woman called Hannah Tatana, who, major discovery for us, famous contralto singer training at the same time as Kiri Te Kanawa but five years older than her. Standing beside Hannah Tatana is a woman called Isabel Cowan who was an extraordinary soprano singer. So what happened as a result of this production was that the whole kind of growth of Māori theater that we're also celebrating in 'Pūkana', happened.

    And Inia's wife, Beryl, has written that he was determined that Māori should have this opportunity to show that they could do more than singing and concert parties and kapa haka and playing the guitar. And Hannah Tatana has said that as a result of this production, things like radio drama, Māori involved in opera, Māori theater, all these things sort of happened. So that's why we've got ‘Porgy and Bess’ so prominently acknowledged in 'Pūkana'.

    We've got the poster. There's a beautiful poster that people can see online from the original posters in the exhibition. And then in a case in the section, are some of the projects that followed on from ‘Porgy and Bess’ and they're to do with translations of Shakespeare that were done by an amazing Māori scholar and leader, Pei Te Hurinui Jones, who translated ‘The Merchant of Venice’, 'Te tangata whai rawa o Weneti', and Don Selwyn who was in ‘Porgy and Bess’ and went on to become an actor, knew that Pei had done these translations in the 1940s, and they'd sort of – he published them himself – he actually couldn't get the money for them to be properly published.

    Don knew that that translation was there, and he led the production of the film 'Te tangata whai rawa o Weneti', 'The Māori Merchant of Venice', which was a hugely successful film which also followed a staged production that Don led as well.

    And then also in the case we've got a couple of images by a young Māori photographer, Te Rawhitiroa Bosch, who recorded another production, not – of a translation – not by Pei Jones but by a woman called Te Haumihiata Mason of ‘Troilus and Cressida’. And this was led by Rawiri Paratene and went on to be performed at the Globe Theater in London after it toured here.

    What also struck us was that some of the people in this production as a result of being together have gone on to form the Modern Māori Quartet. And it sort of made me think, well, this is just like ‘Porgy and Bess’. Māori get together for one kaupapa, and then other things come out of it.

    And then the last part of the exhibition is a wee section looking at the connections between Māori and Pacifica. So early on in the research, I found an article by a man called Christopher Balme, who looked at the 1906 Christchurch exhibition. So this was a huge exhibition that a huge number of New Zealanders visited, and it was in Hedley Park in Christchurch.

    And as part of that exhibition, there was a Māori village in Hedley Park. And the government also invited Pacific Islanders from the Cook Islands, from Rarotonga and Fiji. And there's a photo of Māori Fijians after a fire walking ceremony and Rarotongans meeting pakeha. And they're all, sort of, in their traditional dress, including the pakeha, who are in their silk top hats and formal dress.

    And Christopher Balme in an article I found talked about how quoting from he said the juxtaposition of the Māori and Pacific Islanders in the same space was designed to demonstrate a double political and cultural strategy. He said more than 100 years later – or we've said, sorry – more than 100 years later politics and culture remain at the heart of pan Polynesian cultural identity but with different drivers.

    Because Christopher Balme said you can trace a line from that exhibition in Christchurch and get to the Naked Samoans and to bro'Town. And we suddenly realised there are all of these interconnections between Māori and Pacific peoples.

    So beside that image of the Rangitira from the Pacific and pakeha, ngati pakeha greeting each other, we've got one of Dylan Owens images of women performing – sorry – protesting about West Papua. And that's outside Te Papa in 2015.

    Really striking image of these women with the West Papuan flag used as a, sort of, a bandana around their faces. They're wearing – I think they're called paraou, the garment – black garments. And actually you can't see from the image, but there are some images of Dylan's where you can see that actually from behind their hands are tied.

    Then in a case below those images, there's the program for the first New Zealand Polynesian Festival, which became Matatini, the Māori Kapa Haka Performing Arts Festival. But what we didn't realise was that the first few festivals were actually altogether they were Māori and Pacifica so and were for quite a few years. So that was interesting, and then we've got a image by Julia Brooke White who's donated photos from her collection to the Turnbull Library of Māori woman performing with palm trees in the background, because that's because they're at the 7th festival of Pacific arts.

    So actually, although Polynesian Pacific island performance is no longer part of Matatini, there is still very close connections between Māori and Pacifica. And for example, the upcoming festival of Pacific arts, in fact, it's now common practice for each of those festivals, the winning team at Matatini goes to represent New Zealand.

    And at the very end of the exhibition is a section dedicated to the work of Ans Westra a very famous New Zealand documentary photographer who has donated her collection to the Turnbull Library.

    It's been digitised, and in this section we thought we would look at some of the photos that she's taken that have Māori performance. And you don't actually have to look very hard in Ans' collection to see Māori performance. Because when she was capturing Māori life, she was capturing performance. So there's a slideshow, sort of inspired by seeing the outdoor area at Suite Gallery in Wellington who represent, and they've got some giant visions of Ans’ images reproduced on walls outside.

    And I thought, well, they looked incredible, and I hadn't realised the power that they have when they're large. So, working with Ans and her sister Yvonne and David also from Suite Gallery, we've put together this collection of images from Ans’ collection featuring Māori performance.

    And then there are two beautiful prints that Yvonne has made of Ans’ images, two very famous images.

    One is of children performing at the Whatatutu Primary School, which is near Gisbourne in 1963. And it's an image of these kids who've got this band that they've made. One of the boys has a drum. The other one is singing on a microphone that's actually a baking powder tin. And she just captures this amazing moment. The kids are standing in front of the blackboard, and particularly the boy singing into the microphone is performing.

    And then we're also looking at another image of Ans’ of the same year actually. It's 1963, at Tūrangawaewae in Ngaruawahia. And in between the formalities of the coronation commemorations, which Ans photographed for many years, there would be these dances called kopikopi, which is only done in that part of the country by Tainui. And kopikopi is your belly, and it's a dance where women move their bellies.

    And it's not – it's not a formal planned thing – it's just something that happens in the gaps. And Ans took a lot of photos of these women doing the kopikopi but then she noticed that there was something happening in front of the meeting house, Ma hinaarangi. And she captured this moment where there's a woman dancing. There's a woman beside her playing the harmonica, and then Canon Wi Huata, Anglican minister is leaning forward with the microphone so that the woman playing the harmonica can be heard. That image has become incredibly famous.

    So what we – the final part of this exhibition, the section on the exhibition about Ans’ work is an enlargement of the two contact sheets that Ans has donated to the library to see – so that people can see the sequence of the photos and how this photo – the photo that's famous is part of a series. And you actually see how Ans actually worked as a photographer and also her huge skill, because every single one of these images is beautiful.

    So we've got those two famous images. And then in a case, we've got the actual contact sheets themselves. Because not just young people actually, but lots of people wouldn't even know what a contact sheet was. And that also the square format is unusual too that Ans was working in. So the four shots that she had on every, sort of, roll of film she was working with. And then she printed the contact sheets so that people could see what was on the films.

    So the idea for this exhibition came from Chris Szekely, who is the chief librarian of the Turnbull Library. And he asked us if we were interested in this idea about an exhibition on Māori performance. And he said really the only two parameters for us were that we really try hard to just use our collections to, sort of, celebrate our anniversary, but that we also try and have particular appeal to young Maori 15 to 35.

    And that's – I mean, I'm not 15 to 35, so we'll have to see. The jury's out on that one, but we've been gratified by the response we've had so far.

    But maybe just to finish I could read out a quote from Ans, because when we told Ans what we were doing, she got it straight away. And she emailed us back, and she said you know about – speaking about the exhibition Pūkana – she said, “I would love to see this exhibition dance. Make people smile. I feel that we need that just now. All that talent among Māori, let's celebrate”.

    And that’s it. Pūkana in a nutshell. Kia ora.

    But actually, something I should also mention, a final section is we've highlighted a number of Māori performers. And it's called ngā tangata mīharo. You know, mīharo is amazement, and the amazing people, these people who've had these extraordinary performing careers. So they're also referred to right through the exhibition.

    So Alien Weaponry, who are a thrash metal band who sing in Māori, they kind of represent the kind of end point of sort of the incredible things happening in Māori performance now. If we kind of begin with the women in Hine-te-iwaiwa, when the other women were performing haka to make Kae smile in, sort of, ancient times – Alien Weaponry is the other end.

    And also acknowledging that they're very young those guys. They're at the beginning of their careers. Johnny Cooper, the Māori cowboy who's donated his collection to the Turnbull and whose talent quests are also mentioned in the exhibition, Tina Cross, who won the Pacific Song Contest with – well, actually Carl Doy won the Pacific Song Contest with a song called 'Nothing but Dreams' in 1979, sung by Tina Cross – but she's gone on to have this incredible career as a performer.

    And she has performed at the library. She was at the opening of the exhibition. George Henare, who was in 'Porgy and Bess' was in 'Once Were Warriors'. He's all through this exhibition. Princess Te Rangi Pai, Fanny Rose Howie was her other name – Te Rangi Pai was her stage name – superstar of her day, may not be so well known now as she was in the early 1900s. But we still sing songs that she wrote including ‘Hine e hine’... Moana Maniapoto. A man who performed with Te Rangi Pai, Edward Hatiwiri Pahura Rangiuia, his stage name was Chieftain Rangiuia. So you're acknowledging that there were early on, not many, but there were some Māori performers who really broke through and had international profiles. He was well known in Australia, Paris, as well as England.

    Taiaroa Royal, who has had an extraordinary career in many different dance companies in New Zealand and then founded the Okareka Māori Dance Company. Hannah Tatana, who's now known as Hannah Stappard, so trained with the famous nun teacher at St Mary's in Auckland, Sister Mary Leo. So we've got some photos of her training with Sister Mary Leo taken by Ans Westra, but another Ans Westra photo of Hannah with Kiri Te Kanawa. So they were both training at the same time, and Ans photographed them at the first Māori Festival of the Arts at Ngaruawahia in 1963.

    Marlon Williams, another one of the contemporary performers, and then Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who's had a remarkable career. And she's begun depositing her collection of, starting with her orchestral scores for the arrangements of Māori songs and other songs, other music that she's recorded as a singer.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Discover more from the exhibition

He aha te pūkana?

He āhuatanga ahurei te pūkana nō te waiata me te haka a te Māori. Tōna ritenga kia titiro whakararo, whaka-te-taha ngā karu, kia kaua te upoko e neke.
He pūkenga uaua tēnei ki te hopu, nā te mahi nui anake i mau tūturu ai, e ai ki te mātanga kapa haka nei ki a Rangi Motu:

Ko taku kaiako tuatahi mō te pūkana ko taku koroua ake, ko taku kaiako tuarua ko tētahi whaea kēkē, ko taku kaiako tuatoru ko Minita Mutu Kapa. Nā taku kuia au i ako kia kōripi aku whatu ki te taha, kia titiro ki tētahi kēna kua oti te whakatakoto e ia ki te papa, ko au i taku tūranga, ko te kēna nei i tahaki, me te anga torotika, te anga whakamua taku upoko, kia nekeneke anō ko aku whatu anake. Hei ia whakaharatau ka nekehia haeretia te kēna i te papa, kia tata ake ki aku waewae. . . . He maha ngā whakaharataunga o tēnei mahi, kātahi anō ka mau.  – He mea whakamārama ki a Jennifer Shennan

What is pūkana?

Pūkana – where the eyes look down and sideways, without allowing head movement – is a unique feature of Māori performance.

For kapa haka expert Rangi Motu, the skill came after a lot of practice:

I was taught the puukana when I was very young by my grandfather then later by an aunt, then later again by the Reverend Mutu Kapa. My aunt taught me to cast my eyes down to the side, to look at a tin can which she had placed on the ground, at an angle forward of where I stood, all the while keeping my head straight and forwards, just moving my eyes on their own. At each practice the can was moved along the ground closer and closer to my feet. . . . It was only after many long practice sessions that this was really mastered. – As told to Jennifer Shennan

Meet the Pūkana curators

Two people looking at pictures on the wall at the Pūkana exhibition.
Neil Pardington, Paul Diamond,Vicki-Anne Heikell.
Ariana Performing Taonga Pūoro

Feature image at top of page: Paul Diamond talking about the poster for ‘The Untold Tales of Maui’. Photo by Mark Beatty.