MotutapuBenjamin Work & Brendan KittoForeword by Zoe Black, essays by Pita Turei, Paul Johansson, Stan Wolfgramm and the artists.Designed by Shaun Naufahu and Giordano Zatta
Presented as an exhibition at Te Uru and as this publication, MOTUTAPU is the conclusion of a four-year journey by artist Benjamin Work and photographer Brendan Kitto. This project looks at the shared history of Motutapu (sacred island) throughout Moana Oceania – including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour here in Tāmaki Makaurau. Motutapu is a place of sanctuary. Positioned at the entrance of great harbours, straddling the open ocean and the mainland, it serves as a gateway for navigators arriving and departing on voyages. The lifting of tapu and making things noa took place on Motutapu, allowing navigators to continue with their journey back to their closest kāinga, even if it was generations later.
Work and Kitto’s inquiry into Motutapu was initially centred around the shared name. What soon became apparent was a deeper connection to their own hohoko/ʻakapapa (genealogy) as they travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and connected with key knowledge holders. Motutapu has become a metaphor for Work and Kitto as a starting point for these personal journeys. Through Work’s paintings and Kitto’s photographs of their journeys, combined with the introductions to the three Motutapu locations by Pita Turei, Paul Johansson and Stan Wolfgramm the book offers, for the extended diaspora of Moana Oceania, a way for reconnection and reconciliation and as a reminder of what joins communities across time and space.
“Motutapu reminds me of the Tongan practice of Tauhi vā (to nurture or maintain relational space), as a metaphor of this sacred in-between space, an island straddled between the deep moana and the fonua of the mainland . . . When Brendan and I first embarked on this journey we were unaware of where this would lead us, but we now know this was a journey of restoration, healing and connection – to moana, fonua and ultimately with ‘Otua.”
“. . . Pita Turei, Paul Johansson and Stan Wolfgramm, who generously offered to guide interactions with each island, . . . The stories imparted by each knowledge-holder were offered through worldviews that leave space for multiplicities of knowledge, championing shared understandings that centre the question ‘What do you know it to mean?’. Their collective research offers an appreciation of three locations that have immense importance personally, while respectfully leaving space for others to tell their stories of these lands.”
From the foreword by Zoe Black
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