This series of works taken at the National Library of New Zealand show the real versions of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, and the Declaration of Independence 1835, the founding documents of our country which reflect the aspirations of Māori and Pākehā.
As I photographed the documents I saw landscapes and waterways manifested from the ripples of the paper, these documents still living and breathing, calling to us to care for our land and water, looking back to these will help us navigate our future.
I'm not sure where the shadow came from that covers the Declaration of Independence with a cross, but this perfectly expresses the influence the church had over Māori at the signing of both documents. For instance, did you know that the same missionary, Henry Williams, who translated words in the Treaty incorrectly, had also translated the Declaration a mere five years earlier with correct meanings for the same words? I am 37 and I didn't know before this year, and that is just not good enough.
The kowhai tree creating its own kōwhaiwhai reminds us to treasure our taiao (environment).
And the final image is a kōwhaiwhai pattern from Orongomai Marae in Upper Hutt. The patterns weave round into one another, but still retain individual identity. This is how we must move forward, as Marama Davidson describes it, we are not one, we are many. We must really understand, respect and celebrate that to move forward together.
The title Waitirohia (Reflection) was inspired by a line in the pepeha of my whanaunga Johnny Whaanga "Ko Waitirohia e pupu rere ana ki Ngā Nuhaka". My sister Hollie had interviewed Johnny for her masters thesis, and used the line when creating a poster to present the International Indigenous Development Research Conference, 2014. She chose this title for two reasons; The first is that it holds the names of both of our awa (rivers), Waitirohia and Ngā Nuhaka, these awa are closely associated to the iwi of Ngāti Rakaipaaka. The second lies in the translation of Waitirohia. Tirohia can translate to ‘inspect’ or ‘gaze upon’, whilst on translation for wai is ‘water’. Back in pre-colonial days before Māori had mirrors, they would often look into the river to see a reflection of themselves. Her research reflected on Ngāti Rakaipaaka, whilst also acknowledging she herself is a part of that reflection, a part of Rakaipaaka.
After discussing this with Hollie while I was still in the brainstorming and exploration phase of the series, I knew immediately it was the perfect whakaaro to be led by. So in a way this is a collaboration of us three, Johnny, Hollie and myself, and a dedication to our ancestors. I wanted to show images on how Te Tiriti is a living document, how it should mean as much as us today as it did to our tūpuna who signed it, how both Māori and Pākehā are reflected within it, and, how we are all currently drowning by not acknowledging the promises within it.