Just as whakapapa (genealogy) reflects someone’s lineage and biology, the starting line of a kete determines how its patterning and size will develop. In Flat-Pack Whakapapa, Maureen Lander will create three installations that explore the connections between whakapapa and raranga (Māori weaving).
Flat-Pack Whakapapa considers kinship, family and friendship networks as well as genetic heritage. Approaching these forms of human connection from a mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) perspective, Lander engages with weaving techniques—including whiri (braiding) and whakairo (patterning)—and the concept of aho tuku iho (ancestral lines handed down continuously from generation to generation).
Building on the notion that our whakapaka is always with us, Lander’s installations can be packed down into individual weavings: easily carried around, reconfigured and added onto later. Her approach symbolises how whakapapa grows with us, and how our genealogy is inherited by our descendants, who continue our heritage lines. This representation of whakapapa as mobile supports the idea that despite whanau migrating away from their tūrangawaewae (the place they belong to through their whakapapa), hapū and iwi into the wider world, their birth right means they always carry their culture with them.
Using an everyday motif like the flat-pack design to symbolise deeply held cultural beliefs such as whakapapa, Lander contributes to a wider, ongoing conversation by contemporary Māori artists who address customary ideas in relevant ways for new generations.
FRIDAY Fast Five: Loyalty inside my DNA, Tusk, published 21 July 2017
Mata Aho, A Matriach with Dirty Jokes: An Ode to Maureen Lander, The Pantograph Punch, published 7 August 2017
Time-lapse of installation