As we celebrate Matariki and the Māori New Year,1 the artwork Te whānau raranga o Waitakere, 2018 reminds us of the importance of family and friends, of gathering together during this time of renewal, sharing the harvest, remembering loved ones and celebrating life.
Te whānau raranga o Waitakere, 2018 is by contemporary artist Maureen Lander. The work is a collaboration between Lander and weavers Helen Bucksey, Joy Eaton, Nina Hamill, Janie Randerson and Ann Uerata of Te whānau raranga o Waitakere. The West Auckland group have been weaving together for many years and consider themselves a family united by their shared love of raranga (weaving).2
The work is a recent acquisition and is installed on Level 1 of the General Library. It is made up of 12 woven panels of hand-dyed harakeke (New Zealand flax) and muka (prepared flax fibre), harvested from plants carefully tended by the group.3 The work was created as part of Lander’s 2018-19 touring show ‘Flat Pack Whakapapa’, in which she explores themes of family, friendship, ancestry and genetic heritage.4 The exhibition is inspired by the idea that ‘our whakapapa is always with us’, represented by the modular format of individual weavings which can easily be transported and reconfigured.5 The works engage with the concept of aho tuku iho (ancestral lines passing down generations) through the weaving techniques of whakairo (patterning) and whiri (braiding).6
Lander is of Ngāpuhi and Pākehā descent, and has exhibited widely since the 1980s. She has a Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and was a Senior Lecturer in Māori material culture at the University from the early 1990s until 2007.7
Lara Thomas, University of Auckland Art Collection, Cultural Collections
1 Kahi, T.A., Parr, L. (June 2006). Matariki Tatai Arorangi. Māori Television Service.
2 Ann Uerata, Te whānau raranga o Waitakere wall text. Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa. Exhibition 11 August – 18 November 2018, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland. https://www.teuru.org.nz/index.cfm/whats-on/calendar/maureen-lander-flat-pack-whakapapa/
4 Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa. Exhibition 1 December 2018-18 March 2019, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. https://govettbrewster.com/exhibitions/maureen-lander-flat-pack-whakapapa