Kaitiaki

Te Tuhi Public Art Gallery NZ — 2004

A monochromatic 30 sq metre grid of crisp white disposable nappies/diapers are stretched and woven in a continuous undulating plane from gallery entrance to curator office door. Through formal qualities, materials, title and situation, the weaving evokes a concept of kaitiaki, a core principle central to Maori collective land ownership and a cornerstone of Aoteaoroa NZ's founding treaty Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi). That touchstone extends through post-colonial law and practice to management and care of the environment, art and taonga (treasure), and to the collective care of small children. Spanning the gallery wall, the mass repeating modules of infant diapers generate ambivalent feelings about consumerism, convenience and waste management, while upholding a sense of human potential, each unique and precious life joined through a stepped geometry familiar across cultures and time. Kaitiaki weaves sacred concepts through a profane yet also sacred material, forming an absorbing membrane that repels and attracts, and challenges audiences on multiple planes.