→ View the artwork here

Tia Barrett’s observational learning journey began in Te Waipounamu (South Island of New Zealand) with a collective Hikoi (walk) from Waitaki to Aoraki. The essence of the environment —the appearances, sensations, and sounds of specific moments and weathers significant to her during the hikoi were recorded.

Then, last summer, Tia Barrett engaged in noho wānanga (occupy meeting/discussion) on ancestral land and documented the climate crisis in Wairewa Roto (Lake Forsyth) in Te Waipounamu. Currently, Wairewa Roto is grappling with severe flooding and polluted waterways. Historically, before European colonisation and deforestation, this land and waterways were renowned for their abundance of kai (food), ngāhere (forest), clean water, and wildlife.

Through walks, videos, and community dialogues, Barrett explored the question: "what pūrākau (stories) from our past can we draw upon to benefit the future of our whenua (land)? And how can toi Māori (Māori arts) serve as a means to translate this message into action?"

Two phases of this project have generated a two-part artwork, Tūhononga (Cluster and Connection), which can now be viewed online here

Phase Two: Tūhononga Wairewa Roto (Connection to Wairewa Lake, and land)

Mōteatea title: Wairewa Waiora  
He karakia, he karanga, he waiata aroha.

Inside the heart of Wairewa burns hope of restoration for the land and waters
The flowering event of aquatic plants are positive signals of health
Healing is an act of reciprocation with people and the environment
The life force of Lake Wairewa will be uplifted
Let the life force rise

I roto i te ngakau o Wairewa e mura ana te tumanako tā te ihu i te whenua me ngā wai
Ko te puāwaitanga o nga mānihi he rotarota pai mo te hauora
Ko te mahu he mahi tautitotito ki te tangata me te whenua
Ka hikina te mauri o te roto o Wairewa
Kia piki te mauri o te ora

5.01 mins
Video with sound and colour created by Tia Barrett. 
Karakia spoken by Materoa, Angeleen and Ngākauri-Kaihou Barrett.
Pākehā composition by Tia Barrett.
Reo translation by Zsion Herbert.

Ngā mihi nui to Paemanu Ngāi Tahu Contemporary Visual Arts for the organization of the hikoi (walk) and providing the artist residency opportunity.

About the artist

Tia Barrett (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tamainupō) is an emerging Māori moving image practitioner and photographer based in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton, New Zealand. Her current art practice is firmly grounded in celebrating mana wahine Māori identity (Māori women's rights) and deepening her connection to whenua me o ngā tūpuna (land and ancestors) through a lens-based practice.

Barrett is also on a journey of reclaiming her indigenous Māori language through the art of sung Māori poetry, mōteatea, and incorporating this medium into her contemporary lens-based practice. Barrett’s most recent original mōteatea composition is embedded in her work He Pounamu Ko Āu, which was an outcome from her MVA thesis. Barrett holds a Master of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology. She is a 2023 Te Tumu Toi Arts Foundation Springboard recipient and recently received the 2023 AUT Blue Award for this year's Creative Individual Performance of the year.