In Tools of Oppression and Liberation, Ngahina Hohaia presents us with a major new installation, De-fence. De-fence casts a critical eye on the humble rural farm fencepost. As a seemingly inane part of the New Zealand landscape, the fencepost has played a huge role in the division and dispossession of Māori lands throughout our nation’s relatively short history. In working with this material, Hohaia reflects on the use of the term ‘post’ as a marker of time, space and context.
In De-fence Hohaia acquires and converts a series of fenceposts into pou tangata – Māori markers of land and mana whenua. In the exhibition we see these posts detached from the earth, floating in space, present yet ungrounded. The significance of this act is more than a metaphor, it is a political act. Hohaia has actively uprooted these posts from confiscated Māori lands. Liberating the grounds from these tools of oppression, Hohaia repurposes them to communicate a cautionary tale. The significance of the timber, an introduced white pine, is implicit to the symbolism of this act.
Alongside this artwork are two recent installations. Te Kahu o te Karauna – This is why I won’t stand for the national anthem consists of a metal chain korowai sculpture. The work is on loan from Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History, and it featured prominently at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre when it reopened in 2015. Paopao ki tua o rangi employs sculpture, performance and digital installation to address the continued legacy of non-violent resistance in Aotearoa New Zealand. Paopao ki tua o rangi was first shown at City Gallery Wellington in 2009.
This exhibition has been made possible through the generous patronage of the Deane Endowment Trust.
IMAGE: Ngahina Hohaia, Te Kahu o te Karauna / This is why I won’t stand for the National Anthem (2005 – 2012). Courtesy of the artist and Te Manawa Museums Trust.
Photography by Mark Tantrum