Attention friends! The date for the Sacred Seed art installation is changing. There will no longer be an event on Sunday 24th February.
The new date is Sunday 14th April. It’s a little riskier in terms of weather, but the change is important, and this blog will share why “doing it right” is the most important thing to me.
It turns out that even though I’m a Pakeha (non-Maori) who has been well exposed to Maori tikanga (protocol), I can still do things wrong. With the nature of my art being a nature temple that hangs in a forest, I knew the proper thing to do was to contact the local marae (traditional gathering place with community buildings). It is important for me to talk to them about this work so they could be aware of what was going on in their rohe (area) and give it their blessing.
That phone call should have been done weeks ago. Instead I avoided this crucial call because I procrastinated and chose to sit with the feeling of impending doom for weeks.
Last Monday, I finally made the call to the local kaumatua (elder) who was very happy to talk to me and find out what I was up to. He shared with me the information that I needed to know. He would be in Wellington for the National Kapa Haka competition on my chosen weekend and was unavailable.
I’m happy to share my foolishness with my friends, because I know we can learn from this together. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in community roles where I KNOW the correct tikanga, had a Maori cultural advisor and know some of the key Maori leaders in the city. And yet with all that experience and knowledge I still hesitated and delayed following the processes I know are important.
The ritual of opening a space and blessing its mahi (work) is a very normal part of the culture here in Whangarei. Given the deeper nature of my work I need to honour the people of the land and work with the local Maori hapu (family) group.
By not telling them it could be considered offensive. This is not what I want to achieve. Because I’ve worked with this marae in the past it would just be WEIRD that I didn’t talk to them about it.
I know I can do better. The right thing is to talk with them to work out the best course of action for the piece. Hence the date change.
While I kick myself for not talking to them first, I am grateful for this opportunity to share my learnings. It’s so important to acknowledge the indigenous culture on the land that we are inhabiting. Where possible, we need to learn, to pay attention to the protocols and apply them.
These are not burdensome things to do. It does require more lead time, but these kinds of things enrich our souls and our lives. I’m looking forward to meeting with the kaumatua and sharing with them the vision of Sacred Seed, and the performances that feature in it. Then I can put up the installation with greater support and confidence, breaking the unhealthy loops that have been holding me back. And I’m hopeful that a working relationship can be developed with the marae to create together artwork with fabric which can hang in natural spaces.
So thanks for reading, and SAVE-THE-DATE for Sunday 14th April! I’m looking forward to seeing you in the magic that is Totara Parklands forest on Wairau Drive, Tikipunga.