237.130 Communication for Makers Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Final Grade

Final Grade: A

Very happy to get an A (88%) for this, my first university assignment in decades.


What the heck! For transparency, this is the feedback I got…

Kia ora Gavin. You engaged well, courageously, from welcome professional experience and have come to new insights, esp in the later part of your creative work, testing the validity of your approach of imagining the Māori invitation, and whether you could assume that position on Māori’s behalf.

Earlier, your call for ‘guard rails’, (Mutu), while understandable, does not take into account that your own view and critique on Mutu’s call for a better way to proceed together again comes only from your Euro- frame of thinking. Where slavery is generally understood to be indeed abhorrent, apply that same frame in a wider sense, to see that slavery by Europeans provided the European advantage too, and that inhumane consequences of the colony to this day mainly affect non-Europeans.

Your external review yielded good insight and you revised your work accordingly. Well done.

You have engaged very well with this course, and have contributed with frankness to the studio discussions. Thank you for that, Gavin!

Reflecting on this feedback

I’ve thought a lot about this feedback, and do think it’s fair. I do have one point of clarification. To me, it is possible to read this as slavery being “more bad” when one culture does it to another. I absolutely don’t think my tutor would have meant it this way though, and I got an A, so I’m going to view this as just an interpretation thing and leave it alone. If I run into him on campus and it seems an appropriate time, I will check on this.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #12 Notes

Session 12: Present and reflect

We gathered around, so that each person could have a minute to explain their work and get some public feedback from Matthijs and Dick.

This is a creative arts college full of people who are there to, basically, be creative, so I wouldn’t say that I was surprised to see that people had had all sorts of ideas, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t interested to see the results.

Items presented included paintings, dioramas, textile art, sound art, baking, etc., etc.

Mine was an abstract collage:

  • I wanted this piece to feel uncomfortable and unfinished.
  • I wanted to show the disconnect in my previous and current thinking about my place.
  • I don’t think I’ve achieved this, but I have taken a step towards it, and in the process of working towards it, I do think I’ve learned things.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #11 Notes

Session 11: More Making Of

This session was an other quick check in with Matthijs on my progress. Although concerned that I’m running out of time, I think I’m heading in a slightly more definite direction now. Still want to bring in the three cultures contrasted with triangular section concept, but in a less dangerous and culturally insensitive way (hopefully!). Matthijs asked me to note my conversation with a Māori person and reflect more on that.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #10 Notes

Session 10: Making in progress

This session was a 1:1 session with Matthijs to discuss my concepts for the “Making Of” project.

I discussed the idea of reworking advertising from the 19th and early 20th Centuries to reflect what might have been if the activities were more integration that colonization.

Matthijs expressed a concern that this was potentially a dangerous path, because it was still bring very much a Western approach to the issues. I suggested that I could speak with a Māori person about this, to bounce some ideas around, so I took that away as an action.

I also think I might revisit the concept to see how else I might present the fundamental divisions I feel between UK/Japan/NZ life, and how that three sided thing can be reflected by the three sides of my section on land in Oruamatoro, and so on.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #9 Notes

Session 9: Explore and Express

Less on the lecture stuff; more about our individual projects this week.

Comments from others on ethics

Others initially reflected my thoughts, which is that the Maori approach feels more personally and individual, rather than the more rules based approach of the Massey framework.
About not just your own view, but connects to future people.
The Massey view may apply both to you as a researcher, and also perhaps you as the person being researched.
Can be applied in different ways; can maybe argue the other way, that some people are not worthy of respect.
Perhaps applicable in the longer term; do people who are ex-Massey have an ongoing connection to the ethical framework.
…on the qualities of the Kaupapa Maori framework

Requires a level of trust in the value system
Acknowledge what you are taking, and perhaps become engaged in the conversation and dialogue before asking for or taking things.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #8 Notes

Session 8: Kaupapa and ethics

Group feedback on previous reading

Don’t use the word “tribe”; use “iwi” instead. Tribe meaning originates in “tribis”, Latin for “lowest common order”. Anyway, makes sense to me as I wouldn’t say “raw fish on rice” for “sushi”, and so on.

I’d thought a heck of a lot about the article by Professor Mutu before this session. I’d also considered what the other students would say when asked what they’d got out of it, and my predictions were depressingly correct: highly orthodox responses from those that spoke. I hope some of the people who didn’t speak had done some deeper thinking about the unaddressed “failure modes” in the article.

My peers are young adults straight out of high school, and I do have some experience of what “NCEA thinking” does to children, i.e. my own, and their friends. I think I’m now seeing some of that in my own class. It’s along the lines of, “do you want to think about it, or do you want the grade?”. I’ve heard that from my children and their friends. Hopefully, university shakes that out of people by year three.

I should read more at Prof. Mutu’s writings to see if she has – with reference to Tikanga Māori- done work on what happens if the societal changes she’s advocating don’t work. If things aren’t working, firstly, how will we tell? If they’re failing, what is plan B?

Look at the kaupapa Māori framework.

Discussion in class about the main ways by which both systems seek to uphold the interest of people.

It’s an ethical principles based approached, so seeks a level playing field on which to talk to people.

Ensures that you get the right information and transfer it in the right way?

Sets boundaries/clarity on terminology – common use of language.

Defines what the mutual benefits are?

Reflections on this session

This was probably the hardest session so far, and taught me a lot. Probably some of those things are not what was intended by curriculum…

I thought about the session all weekend. It got me thinking a lot about what is and isn’t “orthodox” thinking. Arguably, with a Labour government very much in charge, a MinEdu approved curriculum, and the course being taught in a public university, then it’s orthodox. Sorry, Massey, you’re not the Rebels; you’re the Empire.

So, I found myself questioning what the course is really after. We’re asked to be very open in our discussions, and prepared to challenge and be challenged, but maybe only if we stay within this orthodox framework? That feels a bit depressing. I thought university was supposed to be the last safe place for difficult ideas?

I wanted to ask this question: “if you have a student who’s a communist/fascist/libertarian, then is Massey’s role to enable them to express their communist/fascist/libertarian tendencies through their practice, or is its role to align them to how the orthodoxy wants them to think?”

That’s a really hard one.

Then again, this isn’t the Art part of the wider course; this is communications. Perhaps the creative arts courses will be doing the former? I can certainly see why the latter would be viewed as the right response in a communications course.

I do worry that I can easily be dismissed as male/pale/stale guy who thinks Māori should suck it up, and that’s not the case at all. I’m not sure what political pigeon hole I should be occupying, but it’s probably “Libertarian”. Meh – I hate labels! I guess this is why I’m struggling with bringing Tikanga Māori so much to the fore, as it’s a system very strongly influenced by ancestry and familial descent, which drifts worryingly toward favouring a particular group because of who their parents were, and that just does not sit well with me.

As always, more pondering needed…

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #7 Notes

Session 7: Talking ink

Notes on the Treaty

We were given Page 8 of the Treaty to review. This was written in Te Reo Māori.

None of the signatures on it were signatures resembling names; they’re all a “mark” made by the chief, with “his mark” written after it. There’s a strong implication that none of the chiefs were able to read the text, so had it explained to them and were then asked to put their mark on it. Literacy among Māori was high though, so this is probably cultural bias sneaking into our assessment. The marks made as signatures are more likely to have been culturally significant to the signers, perhaps an element derived from ta moko or other important design elements.

Notes on the document, taken from the website:

James Fedarb, a trader, carried this treaty sheet around the Bay of Plenty on board the schooner Mercury. During May–June 1840 he visited Ōpōtiki, Tōrere, Te Kaha and Whakatāne collecting the signatures of 26 chiefs. Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson’s signature on this sheet is forged.

Not sure why the signature would need to be forged.

So, various people took their own sheets around the country.

Interesting that the patriarchy is again raised in this context, as an influence on the relationship. Perhaps if Jewish people had been the first settlers, where being Jewish is passed through the matriarchal line, or people from Iceland, where the names come from you mother if you’re a woman and your father if you’re a man, things might have been seen differently?

Group work on Treaty comic

Q: What did He Whakaputanga-The Declaration of Independence provide for Māori?

In theory, Māori got friendship and protection towards the British settlers and traders.

Q: When we consider both Te Tiriti and The Treaty, what are the different understandings held by peoples about what these two artefacts stand for? Name more than one.

As an example, sovereignty may well have had no meaning in a Māori context. The concept of a treaty or agreement in and of itself may not have been meaningful to Māori.

Did Westerners understand how agreements worked in Māori culture.

So why so few female signatories on the Treaty?

Reminder to not make the assumption that Māori culture was patriarchal and that men held the power. Maybe Western cultural expectations were that a man would sign?

External cultural pressure perhaps pushed Māori men to adopt a dominant position in relation to women?

Dick: all issues of sovereignty, e.g. societal control of women’s bodies, lower/working class men being sent off to war by society, etc.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #6 Notes

Session 6: Taking care of knowledge

Skipped due to Easter weekend, so no group activity notes.

Independent study for this session done, and documented elsewhere in my notes on the “Explore” part of my project.

237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #5 Notes

Session 5: How do we know? Part 1

Library Day

Today was a bit different – we found out about how to make best use of the library, and how to properly use references in our reports and writing. This all seemed a bit, “been there, done that”, to me, but if there’s one thing this course is teaching me it’s to just shut up and listen, and I just might learn something.

We had an introductory session, then the main part of the day which was a trip to the library. That was split into two, with one group getting an overview of how best to search for information and access the library’s resources, and other group doing a self-guided tour to learn more about how the Massey library is laid out, what facilities it has, how to track items down, and so on. I was in the latter group first, so wandered off on my own. Bit tired of dealing with people this week, sadly. Burning out?

Looking around the library

So I love library’s anyway, and have already spent a few hours in the Massey one in the evening because it’s a good place to work, and I was in Welly anyway. So, not much to learn, except where the stapler is.

Finding information

We had session with a librarian who told us about the various ways to tap into the university library’s information, and info in general via Google. How to get behind the academic paywalls, because we’re students, so we’re paying to do that.


The final part of the day was an overview of referencing. We made use of the referencing sections of Massey’s own Online Writing and Learning Link.

We are expected to use APA style references in our work.

I did learn something, which is that referencing is a standardized thing, and there are patterns and principles to follow. I’ve been doing this in a toally ad-hoc way since forever, so I guess I need to adapt.

We also had a stern, for Massey, talk on plagiarism. Good o.

Let’s have a practice then…

When you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.

Johnston, A. The Legendary Mizners. Farrar Straus and Young, New York, 1953
237.130 Communication for Makers 237.130 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.130 – Week #4 Notes

Session 4: How do we know? Part 1

Start to consider how we acquire, understand and apply information. Information comes to us via all kinds of sources and systems of knowledge.

‘Artefact’ discussion: Exploring worldviews

Rewatching clips in class.

What’s a worldview?

  • A viewpoint from which you see same info, but with different filters?
  • A set of beliefs and prejudices?
  • A perception?
  • How people believe things should happen?
  • A way in which an individual sees the world around them?
  • Religion? Spirituality?
  • Can’t grow up without some kind of worldview, but it is individual.
  • Morals, culture, sciences, class, economics, education, gender, race, age.

What worldviews are encountered?

  • Accidental arrival vs voyaging/travelling
  • Navigational: Spiritual vs Scientific
  • Documentary makers view: compare 16th Maori navigation vs Viking navigation
  • Documentary makers and emotional manipulation
  • Museum curation vs indigenous culture
  • Museum people and patronization
  • Museum have power to control the narrative and tell the story on their terms

In what ways is information shared and passed down?

  • Oral history, books, memories, etc.

Communicating knowledge: Oral traditions

Something somebody told you…

Cake! Dick has a theory that cake(yes, cake!) is “deep knowledge” and is reflective of the patriarchy… Might want to review Dick’s theory…

Why is oral history and knowledge so important in indigenous societies?

Embodied knowledge and discussion of Richard Sennett’s ‘The Craftsman’ interview article.

  • Considering how to learn to walk
  • How to drive
  • How to ride a bicycle
  • Humour? Learning it through interaction with others.
  • Musical instrument
  • Empathy? Body language?
  • How to tie your shoelaces!

Consider lockdown and how that affected embodied knowledge.

Introduce independent study


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