237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #8 Notes

There was no week 7 – skipped due to lockdown.

Group Discussion

The following term: utu

Utu is a Māori concept of reciprocation or balance.

To retain mana, both friendly and unfriendly actions require an appropriate response, hence utu covers both the reciprocation of kind deeds, and the seeking of revenge.

Utu can also be used in reference to monetary repayments, paying or repaying.

‘Utu (Māori Concept)’. Wikipedia, 2 May 2021. Wikipedia,

Not really about revenge; more about reciprocity.

About restoring balance to mana.

213.157 Studio I (Art Lab) 213.157 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

213.157 – Session #8.2 Notes

Notes on the videos

Dale Harding

  • Art as play.
  • Grew up surrounded by art.
  • Connected to his indigenous community.
  • “If the work doesn’t relate to your family and your community then what’s the point?”
  • Collaborating with cousins in his art practice.
  • Belonging to place, but being separate from it.
  • Nature and landscape part of who you are and what you do.
  • Rewrite a displaced indigenous community back into wider community.

Yoko Ono 1 – the case for

  • Learned music
  • “A grapefruit in a world of park”
  • Hybrid fruit as a metaphor
  • Instructions as art
  • Do the action, or just imagine – become the artist
  • Dismantling of taboos
  • Invitation to participate is a key part of her work

Yoko Ono 2 – reading from Grapefruit

Reminded me of Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier”.

Yoko Ono 3

  • Simple materials
  • Household items
  • More interested in concept
  • Brain as a driver of body
  • Music as a human creation
  • Vibration is important – frees you
  • Sound as artform
  • Fungibility of art
  • Include change into art
  • Art as a dynamic act; not a static object
  • Enjoys every day
213.157 Studio I (Art Lab) 213.157 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

213.157 – Session #8.1 Notes

Wiki tua waru, Akomanga tua tahi (8.1)


Tuesday tutorial

Online because still at COVID Alert Level 2 Delta

Sucks that we have to do this for an interactive art class, but can’t be helped. Mostly worked! Not sure how it’ll work when we have to actively create as a group.


A foundation of this course is Hākari. What do we mean by Hākari?

Initial definition

  • Hākari is a process for balancing, settling and replenishing oneself and one’s community or whenua.
  • It takes the form of a feast, which moves the powhiri proceedings from the formal to the informal, and through that movement cements future relationships.
  • It is an opportunity for reciprocity and friendly rivalry to enhance the mana of the hosts and guests.

Group discussion

We had a class discussion on this, captured in a Google document.

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #6 Notes

Week #6: Presentation

Not possible – COVID 🙁

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #5 Notes

Week #5: Colonisation and Nationalism

Group discussion on culture and “banal nationalism”

We discussed how NZ culture has sought definition, and how a kind of idealistic view of what it means to be a New Zealander has been brought into NZ advertising.

Another name for this is Kiwiana, meaning iconic items that have a distinctly New Zealand flavour. Some examples below:

  • Landscapes
  • Sky tower
  • Buzzy bee
  • Baches
  • Hangi
  • Maori
  • NZ wildlife
  • Bungee
  • Maybe Hilux!
  • Fish and Chips

We discussed how these things are how a culture seeks to internally define itself.

What is the purpose of this?

We did discuss how commercial exploitation is an obvious example of why this kind of iconography is used, but our feelings were that it goes deeper than this.

Initially, NZ advertising had a very British approach and feel to it, including the accents and “received pronunciation” common in Britain at time. We discussed how this was perhaps a colonizers approach – to define the colony exclusively in reference to the “mother” country.

One thing we noted was that a transition away from this British-centric approach gradually occurred, with an acceleration in the 1970s as Britain turned towards Europe and away from its former colonies. Then, different accents started to be heard was reached in NZ advertising .

We also noted that at this time there was increased visibility of the diverse cultures than inhabit NZ.

We contrasted visibility versus representation. The other cultures that we saw in the advertising at the time were in the background, and were not part of the main dialogue of the adverts.

Hints and tips on assignment…

We had a brief discussion to give us some hints on how best to write up our assignment. This was an interesting digression, given that I spend most of my day writing anyway. It was helpful to contrast academic writing styles versus what I usually do!

So, we only get 700 words for this assignment (+/- 10%).

How to make the 700 words we have work best?

Make each paragraph about a new concept.(some concept) is from place, time, who, etc.

Use in-text citations.

Conclude at the end of each para, then write an overall conclusion as a separate paragraph.

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #4 Notes

Week #4: Te Reo Māori & Te Reo Pākehā

Tapu and Noa

Table discussion on this.

People have tapu.

Human waste therefore have tapu.

Medical waste as an example.

Interesting to look at powhiri. Consecration, blessing, removal of tapu.


Sacred, prohibited, restricted, forbidden, protection


Secular, free from restriction, open, clean, whole, ordinary, normal (but be careful with this word – opposite is obviously not abnormal in this context).

Use of karakia to draw a line between your state before you start something, and then after you’ve ended doing something.

Tame Iti video

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #3 Notes

Week #3: Mana Tangata

Discussion on Kumera

Nutritious, can grow easily in NZ, can store very easily. Not sure what relevance this has to whakapapa.

Some traditional Polynesian plants wouldn’t thrive in NZ.

Lots of varieties of Kumera, so there’s probably one that fits in somewhere. However, there were maybe 80 varieties, but only three left.

We have selectively decreased Kumera genetic diversity, potentially to select disease resistance, reduce competitive plants, make it easier to have large scale production, consumerization, etc.

Some efforts made late in the day to increase diversity.

“How the Gok’s saved the Kumera”.

Seed stock of Kumera given away to the Japanese by the government.

Whakapapa again as a way of showing people how to live life according to traditional values.


So the difference is speed? We hybridize things all of the time.

This is not to say that we should not pursue GMO; the issues seem to be around the cross-breeding of species.

Is it OK to apply GMO to things without a whakapapa.

Wonder how agapanthus fits into this

Michael Parekowhai, The Lighthouse, 2017, installation

The Lighthouse is an artwork by Michael Parekowhai. Its exterior is in the form of a 1:1 scale 1950s family home and its interior features an installation of light as well as a sculpture of Captain Cook, titled The English Channel. It is surrounded by a wooden jetty that “floats” on Queens Wharf. The public can explore the work by looking through its windows and doors and by climbing the staircase.

The Lighthouse is the house that holds the whole universe as we know it. The interior finish is highly reflective and features clusters of neon lights that represent the star constellations which illuminate around all of the surfaces. The combination of light and the form of the fireplace implies the notion of ahi kā; that home fires are burning and the house is warm with people.

The presence of The English Channel, sitting among the stars, grounds the work. This version of Captain Cook is not the heroic figure that we often see; instead he’s more pensive and thoughtful. He faces toward the fire, as if he’s warming his feet, but his gaze and mind are elsewhere.

The Lighthouse can be viewed from Queens Wharf or from the sea on the Waiheke or Devonport ferries. The artwork is part of Auckland Council’s public art collection, and was funded by Barfoot & Thompson and anonymous donors.

The Lisa Reihana piece

Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus (infected)

in Pursuit of Venus, the panoramic video by Lisa Reihana, is a moving image interpretation of the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.

Done as a riff on old wallpaper:

Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (The native peoples of the Pacific Ocean), 1804-5, Mâcon, by Mr Jean-Gabriel Charvet, Mr Joseph Dufour. Purchased 2015 with Charles Disney Art Trust funds. Te Papa (2015-0048-1) – Drops 1 – 10

Connections to transit of Venus.

Colonizers view on Aotearoa and Pacific peoples.

The Assignment

Continuing to consider the Doctrine of Discovery, and how to represent this through an art work.

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #2 Notes

Week #2: Mana Whenua

Group work

What my table group learnt from reading “Introduction to the Oxford Illustrated History of Science”:

  1. Science has become disconnected from culture.
  2. Science explains physical and spiritual things.
  3. Science explains models and the different ways of explaining models.
  4. Science is always adapting.
  5. Science sums up the way in which we make sense of the world around us.
  6. Science is a uniquely human activity.
  7. Most of what we know now will become false in the future.

Huhana Smith interview

(Video on Youtube but unlisted)

  • Rehabilitating the stream using matauranga Maori approach.
  • Harakeke (NZ Flax) Indigenous plant.
  • Doing this to keep contact between community and land.
  • Creating “pa harakeke”.
  • Harvest the harakeke and use if for making things, e.g. fibres for cloth, etc.
  • Harakeke also has medicinal uses.
  • Getting artists and artisans involved in responding to the project.
  • Pushing the design aspects of the task through Massey, e.g. textile engineers, designers, etc.

237.131 Conversations in Creative Cultures 237.131 Studio Notes Bachelor of Fine Arts

237.131 – Week #1 Notes

Week #1: Mana Atua and Knowledge Systems


There are about 50 people in this course this semester, which felt like more than the first semester’s 237.130 module. The tutors started out the session by doing an introductory exercise to get us on our feet and energised, which worked pretty well. I started out meeting the group of people who were not born in New Zealand, and then met the people in the group who are, like me, on the BFA course. There are about 8 of us, with the other students being on one of the design courses.

The main part of the session started with us watching the “Tātai Arorangi” episode of Project Mātauranga.

Project Mātauranga is a television series that investigates Māori world views and methodologies within the scientific community and looks at their practical application… This episode looks at tātai arorangi (astronomical knowledge), used to navigate the ocean, plant crops, harvest kaimoana, and to tell the time

Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao

This particular episode focussed on Māori astronomy, including connections to non-Māori astronomy.

What I picked up from the episode:

  • I need to find some Māori astronomy references.
  • Origin stories vary from Iwi to Iwi, so need to take care and not make sweeping statements like, “Māori believe …”
  • How were Māori astronomy stories translated by Pākehā into Western/mainstream concepts?
  • How do the researchers identify original sources?
  • What constitutes “raw information”?
  • Interesting: mainstream versus indigenous as comparative terms.
  • Is science not indigenous to India, England, France, whatever?
  • Not all Māori knowledge is for everyone – need to re-read the 237.130 article.

Digression on comparative terms

One of the speakers in the video used indigenous and mainstream to differentiate between the Māori and non-Māori world views. As noted above, indigenous is (to me) not a useful way of differentiating between the two, because one could argue that everything is invented somewhere, so we may as well say that the Theory of Gravity is indigenous to England. In my writing, if it’s necessary to differentiate, I will therefore use the following:

  • Traditional Māori …
  • Mainstream …
  • I’m not proposing to tag science as anything when referring to the universal subject. Science is not Western science or Eastern science or British science; it’s just “science”.
  • Where there is a need to differentiate between mainstream and fringe science, for example parapsychology versus chemistry, I will write “fringe science” and “mainstream science” respectively.

Class exercise

We split into small groups to discuss a few questions posed by the tutors on the video.

What did we learn that’s new?

None of us had heard of S.M.A.R.T, the Society Of Māori Astronomy Research & Traditions:

What did we already know?

Most of the information about traditional Polynesian navigation techniques – my group had come across this either at school through other sources.

I had seen information on this topic at the New Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland:

What kind of creative work could we make to help explore this?

  • An interactive experience?
  • Game-ify the traditional Māori navigation process?
  • Create an artwork that shows how the night sky would appear, and how points in the sky could aid navigation?
Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Preparing for Semester 2

Some actions to follow up on. Cross out when done.

  • Plan the half year, then months, then weeks. The work this semester is not going to be as easy to fit into my “spare” time as semester one was, particularly the two Art Lab sessions. So, book holidays for those.
  • Change the blog layout to allow multiple courses. I’d locked it into a structure that only really supported one course, so need to put another level of hierarchy in there.
  • Do the independent study! I did well at this in semester one, and need to keep the same focus this semester – if only one or two weeks get away from you, it’s hard to pull it back. So, write up the group sessions, then get stuck into the independent study.
  • Critically, there are two assignments for 237.131 each one with only six weeks to plan/do/submit. I need to plan for the assignment in week one and start getting the submission set up – that was a time sink last time.