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This content is taken from the National Maritime Museum's online course, Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds The basis for our exhibition installation is Ihu ki te Moana. Ihu ki te Moana means our connection with the sea. The imagery is actually based on our ancestors. The paddles figure prominently throughout the image. They’re called hoe. This particular set of hoes, or hoe, they were characteristic by the shape and the design, but also the fact that they carried painting on them, which distinguish them from other types of hoe or paddles. We had this big thing in 1969, which was the bicentennial celebrations. It was amazing. All our old people were saying, well, that’s all very well. That was a great party.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds But we’ve just been left with this legacy of this guy that really didn’t do us any favours because then the story started coming out. The old people started saying, well, we want our stories told. Oral narratives come down through a number of things. Old people, they tell stories. And in my particular case, my connection to my Māoridom is through my mother and her mother and her mother and her mother. Our women were really important. They carried the stories. The men were hopeless. They were off fighting and doing all sorts of stuff. So for us, it’s the narratives. And it actually counters the written narratives that have been put out from an academic perspective. We hear them on Marae.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds You hear them at Tangi. Tangi is the most important construct we have, Tangihanga at funerals. That’s when you get people together. And that’s when the great stories are heard because you get the history. Our problem is not being pushed into spaces where we have to say it within a time frame. We’ll say it when we’re ready. And it’s creating spaces where we can do that. And I think that this exhibition helps to do that.

Ngati Rangiiwaho

In this video Steve Gibbs discusses the artwork Ihu Ki Te Moana, which he and fellow artists Jual Toroa, Kay Robin, Jody Toroa, Kaaterina Kerekere, and Ihipera Whakataka from Ranghiiwaho created.

The work is housed in an original bookcase, in place from when the gallery space was the museum’s library. Steve says:

When we asked our old people what should we make it about and they said ‘well, we’re the water people’, so the important thing is the colour… the paddles feature… there are photos, passport, fibres, weaving, in a bookshelf.

Steve also says that working in collaboration with the museum

offers us another space to do something else, and we’re living in a post-colonial place and we’ve got a lot of work to do… How do we take what’s happened in the past and put it in such a way we can create a future for ourselves?

Who do you think can be activists within museum spaces?

Who enables this, and why?

To read more about the work of Ranghiiwaho, and other artists who contributed work in the gallery, download an article by Jo Walsh in Downloads below. And you can follow the link to Ranghiiwaho in See Also.

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum