“The issues that I’m always discussing are economic, social, and environmental. Land rights tie back to the basis of justice in our country, the covenant of the country, the korowai of the country.”
– Emily Karaka
Ngāi Tai artist Emily Karaka explores themes concerning her iwi’s claims that are shortly coming before the Waitangi Tribunal.
In Claims Wai 423 and 357, consisting of seven large, dynamic works, Emily Karaka’s subject matter focused on her deep involvement with recent and current claims made to the Waitangi Tribunal. The works voice a plea that the history of Māori peoples in Auckland, in particular that of her own iwi, Ngāi Tai, not be forgotten. They speak of our obligations to protect our city environment and the waters of the Hauraki Gulf from the clutches of commercial interests. Crucially they remind us that if the Treaty of Waitangi is to be honoured then it is, at the moment, by claims brought by iwi to the Waitangi Tribunal that compensation for loss of land, loss of waterways, loss of livelihood, can be sought and negotiated.
Interwoven through the works are references to actual claims brought to the Waitangi Tribunal, by Emily Karaka and Te Warena Taua, on behalf of the Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Trust. Wai 357 deals with the requirements of consultation and negotiation to avoid the sale of Railway lands, once tribal lands, to State Owned Enterprises. Such sales would mean land available for Treaty settlements could be lost for ever. Wai 423 focuses on concerns relating to lands and waterways across Auckland, compensation for confiscations, preservation of sites of significance, breaches of clauses in sales deeds and the restoration of empowerment in relation to the uses and disposals of these lands.
As a basis for this exhibition the claims works provide a framework for commenting on commercial interests in downtown Auckland, the consequent compromising of historic places, and augmented levels of pollution caused by waterfront developments and unprecedented numbers of boats cruising in the Hauraki Gulf during the America’s Cup yachting event.
– Nanette Norris
This text is an excerpt from the essay by Nanette Norris from the exhibition catalogue Emily Karaka: Claims Wai 423 and 357, published by te tuhi – the mark, May 2001.
→ Emily Karaka: Claims Wai 423 and 357, 2001, publication
→ Emily Karaka: Claims Wai 423 and 357, 2001, exhibition card