Visualisation of Maori placenames, their meanings, phonetics, and historical & georaphical context.
Living and studying in New Zealand for four years, I eagerly observed and learned about the country’s diverse history and culture. My university put great emphasis on honoring and teaching Maori culture, as well as educating and promoting a sensible and respectful approach to cultural appropriation. The concept behind this series was first introduced to me as a class assignment during my second year of University. Recently I decided to re-visit this project to re-interpret and revise it – here are the results:
Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), meaning “Leaping Place of Spirits” is the northernmost point in New Zealand. It is believed that the spirits of the dead depart Aotearoa by leaping off an ancient Pohutukawa tree to return to their ancestral homeland Hawaiki.
Ka Pakihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha (Canterbury Plains). The once densely forested land, home to many Maori tribes and later European settlers, was completely destroyed and stripped off its lush vegetation by out-of-control-fires.
Onetahua (Farewell Spit), meaning “Heaped Up Sand”, refers to a narrow spit of sand on the northernmost tip of the South Island, stretching over 26km.
Mawhera (Greymouth), meaning “Bright Running Waters” or “Widespread River Mouth”, referring to the Grey River (Māwheranui) flowing into the stormy sea.
Waiwhetu (Suburb of Lower Hutt), meaning “Star Reflecting Water”. Formerly a native reserve along the Waiwhetu River and home to the Te Āti Awa tribe, it was compulsory acquired by the government in the 1930s.