Kaitiaki (University of Auckland)

2003

nappies/diapers, staples, white-out
2.5mH x 4mW x 40mmD

Series: Nappy Work

In Maori, kaitiaki means guardian and protector. Each iwi (tribe) is vested with the care and protection of its lands and resources, both physical and spiritual. Kaitiakitanga has formal, customary standing and is deeply connected to Maori sovereignty. In less formal contexts, kaitiaki also refers to a babysitter, and the care and protection of the young.
The 'cultural interweaving' of Kaitiaki exposes difficult ground at a threshold of Maori and European values. The long white wall is made from disposable baby nappies/diapers, which offer convenience yet take 100s of years to decompose in Aotearoa/NZ landfills. Pushed to the edges, this grid of interlocked readymades resembles Maori weaving and Celtic patterns. Seductively tactile, the wall invites touch and repels. It appears sacred and pristine yet also profane and toxic, absorbing meaning and ideas that shift according to cultural, spiritual, environmental, and commercial paradigms.