Ma'u Pe Kai

Matavai Taulangau, Research image, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist.

Matavai Taulangau, Research image, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist.

now on
10 Aug – 7 Sep

Matavai Taulangau

Kaikohe is a small town located in Northland, a town that reflects the village culture my fāmili (family) were accustomed to back in Tonga. My ongo mātu'a (parents) made the decision to raise our fāmili in Kaikohe. They left their fonua in exchange for the whenua in Aotearoa. As my father had said, “To’uanga fiemalie pe, he teu ave koe ki Nusila mo fanau”, God had brought us here. My parents’ migration brought about a shift in perception, towards the idea that value was only obtained through Western knowledge.

 

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The first time I heard the phrase “ma’u pe kai” was filming a harvest of kumala in Okaihau, a town not far from where I grew up, where a community garden is cared for by local Tongans. Being a visitor to this harvest, I noticed “ma’u pe kai” was frequently used as a modest reply. A reply, my mother explained, that was often used when fishing. A humble way of acknowledging that there wasn’t a lot of fish caught, but enough to feed the people.

Reestablishing the connection to my culture has begun through understanding cultural practices and why we maintain them. Food and labour are a source of remembrance, learning and knowledge. Through filming the labour of kumala, knowing through experience is shown. Each patch of soil is a source of cultural knowledge. The act of filming is to assert the significance of Indigenous Tongan knowledge and even though memories fade, the hands who tend the soil will always remember.

Ma’u Pe Kai is a new moving image installation at Enjoy by Matavai Taulangau that documents three kumala harvests: one by the Tongan community in Okaihau in Northland, one by the artist’s mother in nearby Kaikohe, and one by the artist in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

Taulangau takes notice, observes and explores the value of different kinds of work through his lens-based practice. His video work and photography strives to highlight forms of labour and knowledge that are often overlooked, emphasising the value of people and their experiences.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Matavai Taulangau has a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honors from AUT University. Recent exhibitions include Salt, Tacit Gallery, Kirikiriroa Hamilton (2018), This time of useful consciousness, The Dowse Art Museum, Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt (2017), On the Grounds, Starkwhite, Tāmaki Makaurau (2017), Ward 3 with Ary Jansen, RM, Tāmaki Makaurau (2016), Offstage 7, Artspace, Tāmaki Makaurau (2016).

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Wishing Well

Knotting workshop with Wai Ching Chan, 4 May 2019.

Knotting workshop with Wai Ching Chan, 4 May 2019.

now on
10 Aug – 7 Sep

Wai Ching Chan

The Button knot: holding what was separated together

The ‘Caisson’ knot: establishing connection to the ‘world’ and us

The Endless knot: Typically seen as the ‘good luck knot’; ultimate, eternal blessings, friendship and connection  

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Wishing Well is part of an ongoing research project by artist Wai Ching Chan that takes Chinese Knots 中国结 as a starting point to explore relationships between tauiwi and Tangata Whenua in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The installation is developed following two one-day workshops held earlier this year at Enjoy, during which the artist led a range of participants in learning three traditional knots. These events also acted as an invitation to make conversation and to broadly consider the symbolism of knots—and whatever else came about through the learning process—in dialogue with others. While Chinese Knots are sometimes misunderstood as merely decorative objects, they create material links between the past, present and future.

Wishing Well collates knot-making by workshop participants with new and existing work by the artist, extending this enquiry to the space of the gallery. Traditionally made using red thread, the knots that make up the installation are instead made with materials that are accessible in craft and convenience stores, including brown twine used by the artist’s family to send care packages from Hong Kong to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

Approaching knotting as a means to bind fragments of heritage, remembrance and connection, Wishing Well proposes the practice as a material language that has the potential to “speak between” shared values while respecting difference.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Wai Ching Chan’s research revolves around defending, embracing and respecting differences in culture. Recent projects include: Fluid Borders 流动的边界, Audio Foundation, Tāmaki Makaurau; A temple, a commons and a cave, MEANWHILE, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington ; The River Remains; ake tonu atu, Artspace, Tāmaki Makaurau; What We Do in the Shadows, TONENTON Artspace, Hamburg; BITE ME- Decolonising the Diet, Lowtide Studio, Tāmaki Makaurau, Rabbit on the Moon, Hapori vol. 6, 157 Symonds Street, Tāmaki Makaurau.

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