Cameron Edwards He Moemoeā

  • Tauira / Student
    Cameron Edwards
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Kerry Ann Lee, Lee Jensen

He Moemoeā reaches back almost 200 years to the early colonial period of Aotearoa. It is a translation and re-publishing of Aporos sketches. These sketches intimately record a Māori experience resisting Pākehā forces and have subsequently been marginalised by mainstream colonial historical knowledge. He Moemoeā sits as a counter-monument within our current colonial landscape. It attempts to critique traditional remembrance practices while acting as a case study for design translation.

He Moemoeā acts as a case study for the re-centring of marginalised histories and shed light on a Māori perspective of the past. It also promotes narratives of indigenous resistance to colonisation and hopes to inspire further decolonization. To achieve this required a re-imagining of what places of remembrance can look like.

He Moemoeā memorialises the experiences of Rota Waitapu, who was also known as Aporo. He was a member of the Pirirakau hapū of the Ngāti Ranginui clan. A colonial soldier murdered Rota and took a diary of sketches from him at Poripori Falls, inland from Tauranga. His drawings are a recording of his dreams but also make comments about the politics he experienced and violence that surrounded him.

As a pakeha designer I acknowledge my outsider position and felt privileged to work collaboratively and draw information from members of the Pirirakau hapū who were extremely helpful in guiding me through their knowledge of Rota. Colonial racism perpetuated by monuments is a Pakeha problem to combat but it is vital that iwi and hapū are brought to the decision-making table and given space to design their own forms of remembrance.

The five banners draw upon visual motifs seen in Rota’s diary, and are displayed on frames constructed using rimu grown and milled in Tauranga. They are designed to be arranged in a circular format to avoid a traditional western reading of left to right. As the viewer enters the circle, they should be encouraged to read the history as a whole and encounter each story within a wider context. As you gaze upon one banner another is facing your back, forcing the viewer to consider their own position in the story. The accompanying publication extends He Moemoeā’s communication capabilities. By publishing and freely distributing a printed account of this marginalised history we hope to pass on the story in a highly accessible way.