Whatuora, Emily Parr & Arielle Walker

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Stills from whatuora (February 2020). HD video, 12 min.

Hinekura Smith frames Whatuora as a methodology which “helps us to see ourselves, our past experiences and possible future through decolonising eyes. A Whatuora approach… insists that we actively reclaim and restore, unpick and re-weave, a culturally well and clear vision of our present realities and, importantly, create a vision for the future.”1 There is both tension and wonder in learning about oneself through museums and archives, which hold our ancestors’ taonga but rarely their voices. We must come to know our tūpuna wāhine in other ways.

As we both begin the long, slow process of learning to weave, we are in conversation not only with each other, but also with our tūpuna wāhine in te whare pora. In Whatuora, we hīkoi to a place our ancestors were simultaneously, Kororāreka. Through kōrerorero, we tease out the threads that brought us together, our connection to whenua as descendents of settler-indigenous relationships, and our belonging to place as women whose ancestors moved across oceans and brought – or left behind – their stories and traditions.

We have shared a studio and worked alongside each other for the past year. Our practices have been influenced by this relationship: sometimes converging, always buoying. Whatuora is the first of three parts, a beginning point, from which reciprocal practices and shared haerenga will unfold over several months. Together, we reflect on the passing down of knowledge, the repairing of ruptures, and the bridging of time.

1 Smith, Hinekura. "Whatuora: Theorizing “New” Indigenous Methodology from “Old” Indigenous Weaving Practice." Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal 4, no. 1 (2019): 1-27. http://dx.doi.org/10.18432/ari29393.