Zoë Bell Kei Te Noho Me Nga Rākau

  • Tauira / Student
    Zoë Bell
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Antony Nevin, Jason O'Hara

Te Ātiawa's Pā lived just here on the waterfront, on the land we now know as Courtney Place, Wellington. I have been fascinated that my tipuna were the original tenders to this land. I’ve asked myself, what was their relationship with the land and living things? These moments of contemplation led to spending time studying rongoā with Joanne Hakaraia-Olson through Te Waka Rākau. I spent much of my time out in the ngahere, with others who also saw the dimensions of rongoā, and strengthened my relationship with the land.

Our indigenous ways of healing stretch far back into time and space, and although they may feel lost within western ways of medicine, they are still just as needed for our tinana (body), wairua (spirit), and hinengaro (mental wellbeing) as ever. I suggest that our view of our life could be different, that we could change. ‘Kei Te Noho Me Nga Rākau’ embodies a sense of complex pleasure, a moment for a viewer to critique their ways of viewing nature, and expand their mind to see an alternative future to our own, and craft coexistence in the here- and-now and yet-to-exist.

Both the publication and the projection follow a narrative of my own perception of the seven puna of sitting with rākau. from whanaungatanga (gaining trust) to kotahitanga (being one), both the book and projection harness the fluid movement through these spaces to regain an understanding of connection with rākau and the use of rongoā for spiritual healing.

Other than small surrounding narratives, the projection is mainly based on the movement of Te Takarangi. Takarangi is a spiral of physical and spiritual energy, growth, and decay. This represents the dynamic circles of life. Once one fades, another grows in its place. Flowing, intertwining, and interconnecting. In this design, takarangi represents both ourselves and our earth, and the ever-need for reciprocity and love.

Within the design world, there’s deeper work to be done in creating spaces for discussion and opening up minds about alternative ways of being, inspiring people's imaginations to run freely. Additionally, using design to help frame my ideas of the world around me and allowing me to explore mātauranga Māori-inspired epistemology, I am essentially seeking to preserve these traditional ideas through creation.

‘Kei Te Noho Me Nga Rākau’ is a deeply personal and explorative project on my whakapapa and the ways I have been connecting with that through the practice of Rongoā Māori (spiritual and natural healing). A project designed to remind us that we are not alone. That we are not alienated from this earth, and we can return to reconnection and reciprocation with the land. Ko au ko Papatūānuku, Papatūānuku au. I am Mother Earth and Mother Earth is me.