February was an exceptional month for arts, culture and heritage in Hawke’s Bay, from the 1931 Earthquake and Waitangi Day commemorations, to the Art Deco Festival and the month-long Kahungunu Festival – capped off by the incredible Te Matatini.This month looks to be another busy one for us at the museum, with visiting artist Yuki Kihara coming for three weeks to research and create new artworks, based on the connections between Ngati Kahungunu and her homeland of Samoa.
Yuki is one of New Zealand’s leading ‘interdisciplinary’ artists (she works in a range of media, including photography, video, and performance art) – and remains the only New Zealander, as well as the only artist of Samoan heritage, to have had a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Her interest in Hawke’s Bay was inspired by the narrative that tells how the waka Takitimu was built from ‘the great trees of Rata’s sacred forest’ in Samoa, many generations before carrying the ancestors of Ngati Kahungunu, and many other iwi, to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Over her three-week residency here, Yuki will build on this ancestral link, looking into more recent connections between local Maori and tagata Samoa in areas such as housing, church, school, work and more.
Her visit is particularly well-timed to research the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, which sees up to 9,000 people come to New Zealand annually, from various Pacific Island nations, to work on orchards and vineyards for up to seven months at a time. Each summer, hundreds of Samoan workers come to Hawke’s Bay under the scheme and Yuki is interested in finding out how this effects Samoans both here and back home, along with the impacts on Ngāti Kahungunu, and Hawke’s Bay locals in general.
Yuki will be visiting orchards that take part in the RSE scheme, along with landing sites of the Takitimu, marae with strong ties to the waka, and suburbs with strong Maori and Samoan communities. She is looking forward to speaking with members of these communities, and we welcome anyone with ideas, stories or information relating to this project to share them by getting in touch with the museum.
Members of the public are also most welcome to the mihimihi to be held at the museum on the morning of Yuki’s arrival (Monday 13th). This will be followed by morning tea, a talk from Yuki about her art practice and the aims of her time in Hawke’s Bay, and a chance for discussion amongst those present. Contact the museum for more details if you would like to attend.
The result of the residency will be a new series of photographic artworks, which will be presented as part of Yuki’s solo exhibition at MTG in December this year.
Yuki Kihara: Photograph titled ‘After Tsunami Galu Afi, Lalomanu,’ 2013
Jessica Mio – Curator of Art, MTG Hawke’s Bay
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 4 March 2017