237.131 – WEEK 6

1) Both Mane-Wheoki and Anderson describe how Māori visual and material culture has been framed by predominantly western accounts. Discuss this, using both readings to support your discussion (100 words).

In both texts various examples of Māori visual and material culture framed from a western perspective are prominent. In the 1770’s, there are no records of the Europeans by Maori. Maori commentary is only evident in the 1800’s. Right from the beginning, Maori and their culture was recorded from an “extremely one-sided” and “exclusively foreign gaze” (Atholl 133). According to Jonathan Mane Wheoki, the “idea of art arrived with Europeans”, New Zealand’s art history was “colonised and mythologised” by the British. Wheoki questions “Maori art” and the self-consciousness of Maori after European contact (7). Ethnographic and customary art is also the product of European contact, as prior to colonisation there was no need for marking art as “Maori” (Wheoki, 8).

2) Choose an example of 20th century art/design from anywhere in “Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History”. Upload the example to your blog and explain how the work can be considered from a Māori worldview (consider origins, customary practices etc) (100 words).

IMG_2789.JPGWu, Annie. The Price of Change. 2009. Tangata Whenua. N.p.: Bridget Williams, n.d. 41. Print.

The Price of Change by Matthew McIntrye Wilson (Taranaki, Tihati, Ngā Māhanga), reconstructs coins from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands into brooches. Atoll suggests these offer an “alternative narrative of nineteenth-century history” (41). The Hei-Tiki puts Maori in the centre, rather than the opposing western oriented view of Aotearoa’s history. As the Hei-tiki represents the “advent of mankind”, Wilson’s work symbolises the whenua (land) in relation to the Tangata (people) (41). As currency was only introduced after colonisation, it also exemplifies the Crown in relation to Maori. As seen in Wilson’s work, the coin is the head, deemed the most tapu part of the body, it takes a dominant and controlling position.

Works cited

Anderson, Atholl, Judith Binney, and Aroha Harris. Tangata Whenua : An Illustrated History. n.p.: Wellington : Bridget Williams Books, 2014. Print.

Mane-Wheoki, Jonathan. Art’s Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland: University of Auckland, 2011. Print.

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237.131 – WEEK 6

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