Thursday, May 10, 2007
Ka whawhai tonu ahau ki a koe, ake, ake ake!
This sign-scuplture is part of an exhbition called Enquiries bing staged by Manu Scott at Auckland's Oedipus Rex gallery. Scott's sign refers to the famous photo of Whina Cooper and her great-grandchild walking down a road near Hapua, New Zealand's northernmost settlement, on the first day of the epic 1975 Land Hikoi:
The words 'Ake, ake, ake' refer to Orakau, site of the last major battle of the war that began when Europeans invaded the Waikato in 1863. Near the end of the battle, when his troops were forced to fire plum stones because they had run out of bullets, the great Tainui chief Rewi Maniapoto jumped onto the battlements of the pa he was defending and shouted 'Ka whawhai tonu ahau ki a koe, ake, ake ake!', which translates as 'I shall fight against you, for ever and ever'.
I remember ten thousand people chanting Rewi's words during the Waikato leg of the Seabed and Foreshore Hikoi of 2004, which retraced the route taken by marchers in 1975.
As well as the sign-scupltures, Scott's show includes a series of sad but beautiful photographs of the ruins of a Maori Boys School which recall Mark Hamilton's snapshots of the disused hospital at Tokanui. You can catch Enquiries until the end of the month.