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Hei Mahara Triptych Digital Photograph 3x 400x500

Iri Pakitara - Ria Te Uira  Digital Photograph 400x500 , detail of Hei Mahara - Helen 

Iri Pakitara - Te Kakakura ,  Iri Pakitara - Natanahira, Iri Pakitara - Nohorua , 3x Digital Photograph 400x500 

Detail of Hei Mahara #1, Hei Mahara #3 400x500 Digital Photograph

Masters of Māori Visual Arts th esis Exhibition
Massey University

Mahara Gallery, Waikanae.

Ata can be translated as light, reflection, shadow, photograph, morning or dawn.

When Māori were first exposed to photography it was a source of anxiety. Māori feared that the camera had the ability to usurp a person's mauri (life force). For some sickness and even death was the ultimate 
result. In time photography was embraced and this western technology was woven into the framework of Māori tikanga (protocols) and custom. 

Portrait photography was valued for its ability to capture the mauri of a person. Māori embraced portrait photography as a means of commemorating deceased at tangihanga (funeral). In time this practice became an integral part of  tikanga associated with the rituals of tangihanga and kawe mate (ritual commemoration of deceased in absentia).  Portraits of the deceased were addressed at these rituals as if they were physically present. Overtime portraits of the deceased lined the interior walls of meeting houses. 
The series of photographs in ataata acknowledge rituals of commemoration and the importance of portraiture for Māori. The photographs are a reflection of the past and present; a reflection of my whakapapa (genealogy) as a continuum of my tupuna (ancestors) and their memory. 

Th is reflection and communion across time and space is achieved through photographic interactions between my ancestors, their taonga (heirlooms) and my self-portrait.

He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga mahara.
Seeing your face today awakens memories of those in the past.

Ataata installation in Mahara Gallery, Waikanae