Mata Aho Collective
(Image courtesy of the artists)
Kaokao is a large-scale installation that has been made by the many hands of Mata Aho Collective using industrial material to reflect and highlight the following whakataukī:
He wāhine, he whenua, ka ngaro te tangata. Without women and without land, humanity is lost.
Kaokao is a tukutuku pattern synonymous with strength, associated with both a birthing stance and a warrior's stance. It is also reminiscent of a military chevron used to decorate the sleeves of soldiers. Customarily although not specifically portrayed as a female art form, tukutuku are made by two people working together.
With these aspects in mind, our collective of four Māori women have chosen Kaokao as both the literal and conceptual basis to explore the portrayal of women within Māori and non-Māori wartime histories. Inspired by the 100 year commemorations of WWI, we as artists and women find history to be a site of contention and aim to expose its biases whilst portraying a desire for a restorative balance. Our work acknowledges the many wāhine who have stood in front, alongside and behind their contemporaries to care and protect their whenua and whānau.
Ki te mate ngā tane, me mate anō ngā wāhine me ngā tamariki hoki. If the men die, so too do the women and children. - Ahumai Te Paerata in the 1864 Battle of Ōrakau.