A pathway of public art through the city highlights the voices and creativity of Takatāpui Māori artists for Auckland Pride 2022. 

Te Tīmatanga (the beginning) is an art trail for Auckland Pride that celebrates the talents, resilience, nuances and lived experience of Aotearoa’s Kāhui (constellation) Takatāpui.

Seven Takatāpui artists are showcasing their work with installations in Aotea Square, Albert Park, Britomart, Commercial Bay, Viaduct Harbour and Silo Park. Together they stand connected as a cluster of practitioners that in unison show the importance, reverence and beauty of Takatāpuitanga.

In Britomart, you can check out installations by Hana Burgess, Kahu Kutia and Liam Brown. These are located on at 10-20 Customs Street East, 26-40 Galway Street and in the Atrium on Takutai. 

Infinite Formations / Hana Burgess 

Hana Burgess (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) (she/her) is a kaupapa Māori researcher, teacher, and artist. Grounded in whakapapa, her work explores Māori futurisms, envisioning how we can be in good relation with our mokopuna and tūpuna, beyond the confines of colonial conceptions of what it means to be.

“Infinite Formations was created as an A5 zine for my love, Haylee Koroi. It is an exploration of love. Love that expands into and through my love for my whānau, my friends, and my communities. Love that extends from ngā atua, to our more than human relations - our moana, our awa, our maunga - our tuākana. Love that is rooted in whakapapa, in our pasts and futures, infinitely cascading from each of us.

“Through collage, I reshape, reorder, and damage texts and images that reflect colonial imaginings of our worlds. I speak back to that which is done to us, as our complex and expansive ways of relating to one another are continually reshaped, reordered and damaged by settler colonialism.

“This work is an act of refusal. It is a re-imagining. A re-membering of our infinite relations."

"The texts and images in the works are derived from old books and magazines I collected across Aotearoa, mostly from the dusty corners of op shops. This work foregrounds illustrations from How the Maoris lived by A. W. Reed (1960) published by A.H. & A.W. Reed and Native Animals of New Zealand by A. W. B. Powell (1975) published by Auckland Institute & Museum."

To see more of Hana’s work, follow on Instagram at @hmmpaua. 

Te Pō / when we were erased we came back here / Kahu Kutia

i wake in rattling breath / feeling nothing but this darkness pressed against me / when we were erased we came back here // te pō //

te pō nui // the swimming pool of grand-others / tūpuna / giggling and whispering in soft muffled sounds like tūpuna do / gentle and incomprehensible

they have lived //te pō roa // many long lives

te pō uriuri // take me deeper / let me try on their lives / their tumbles / their glittering skins / when i want to know home / let me sit with them / i’ll drink my cup of tea / they’ll show me pictures / tell stories about the good days to come

my tongue is / rust clotted blood and hot grinding earth / we tumble further through this darkness

// te pō kerekere // hand 2 hip / nose 2 nose / forehead 2 chest / oblivous and syncopating / where is the end of them / the start of me 

te pō tiwhatiwha // i behold nothing / the dark is endless / fall to the floor gasping for air

crawling on cracked earth // te pō te kitea // it smells like / fever dreams and conversations / shared in the safety of a whare tūpuna at night time

in the night that is most dark i / sit and cry // te pō tangotango // what is the point!! / just go with the flow / thats the way things are / they dont want us anyway / not really / it bothers them that we took one bloody word to be our own / takatāpui / we would build our pā and make you feel at home / we were raised that way too

te pō whāwhā // i behold you / guides who pull softly at my elbow / pushing hair behind my ear / brushing off the dust / stand me on my feet / my friends / my lovers / this endless line of tūpuna / the homes i want to build with you all

you lead me softly down this path in to our own greater knowing / unapologetically you / gentle in your love / gentle too in your anger and sadness / so harty / and i love you so deeply for it all // te pō namunamu ki taiao

te pō tahuri atu // we turn like anxious coals in the pre-dawn / hot and euphoric

when we were erased we came back here / to the unknown / we write ourselves into being again / in this ocean of endless potential / as this night turns we taste the first kiss of dawn // te pō tahuri mai ki taiao //a call to arms / we come to know ourselves in feel / we come in to knowing / te pō is the womb / the afterlife / a dark sticky room tased in late summer heat / draw closer one last time / ki te whaiao! / ki te ao mārama! / takatāpui mā / maranga mai!

“This work [which includes the poem above along Galway Street] responds to the concept of te pō, as it sits within the wider whakapapa of our world’s origin, and the ways this whakapapa is being used as a pou for this kaupapa. As takatāpui we generally have no reference sources and kōrero tuku iho to be able to understand how our takatāpui tīpuna lived. As such, reinvention, recreation, the following of intuition becomes the space that we must inhabit to find ourselves. Te pō, to me, seems to offer a safe dark space, a void of endless potential. There, amongst ourselves, and with all those who have come before us, we weave new understandings of how we as takatāpui might inhabit the world. te pō considers the creation of the world through 12 phases of te pō, and how we as takatāpui might create and recreate ourselves in a similar way.”

te pō is visually influenced by the geometric patterns of woven whāriki. The font BackOut is an open-source font created by Frank Adebiaye and Ariel Martín Pérez.

To see more of Kahu’s art practice, follow @hinenuitehoha on Instagram or check out www.kahukutia.squarespace.com

Te Tinana / Liam Brown 

Liam Brown is a takatāpui interdisciplinary artist based in Te-Matau-a-Māui, with a focus on lens-based media. Liam has whakapapa to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa and Tūhoe.

Liam’s mahi documents the queer experience through both a personal lens and a community-based lens, with work ranging from shooting queer events to personal endeavours. It's a way of decolonising their lens to help the viewer decolonise the way they view the world. Their work is centred around the experience of queer people of colour, and how they move and navigate the world. They aim to invoke a sense of community through the work they produce.

 TE TINANA is an exploration of the body through self portraiture. Liam says:

“As a plus-size Takatāpui Māori, I never saw my body represented literally anywhere. When I moved in with my parents after taking a break from studying, I decided to go into the studio space I had at the time and produce a body of work centred around my own body and finding comfort in all the cracks and crevices that I hide on a daily basis.

"The work itself within the context of Whitings o Te Rā brings a level of visibility to the light that a lot of our people need to see. We were created so perfectly as Takatāpui, and our bodies are sacred. When I visualise this body of work, I see it sitting on the horizon of a new day that is about to be brighter and bigger than ever because of our existence and visibility as a community."

See more of Liam's work at @liiiambrown.

Britomart is grateful to the kaiwhakahaere of Auckland Pride, Hāmiora Bailey, and to all the artists for enriching Britomart's spaces with their work.