• Suzy Costello, workbooks

MFA 19-25 July, 2021

Updated: 2 days ago

Making Artwork, Thesis Proposal, Taunaha Whenua, Researching others stories of becoming Pākehā,


This week I've been focusing on reinterpreting the third element of the installation from semester 1 - Sea and Sky. Dressed in gumboots, the dog and I headed down to the beach just as the tide was changing from a high to an outgoing tide. I placed tissue paper, one at a time, in the shallow surf, allowing the waves to collect the paper into themselves so that they swirled and moved together, tangling in a dance of becoming (too busy to take photos sorry). As the waves receded, the paper remained on the shore, holding memory traces of this moment of encounter.

I sat and waited for the paper to dry, just watching and listening to the motion of the waves and thinking about Rangi Matamua's description of Māori astronomy and the influence of the moon/marama. It occurs to me that the moon's motion is now traced into the tissue paper. And all those swims I've had in the ocean, and the sleepless nights I spent tracking the full moon have meant the moon has left its trace in me also.


"Woven like a tapestry from the lives of its inhabitants, the land is not so much a stage for the enactment of history, or a surface on which it is inscribed, as history congealed. And just as kinship is geography, so the lives of persons and their histories of relationships can be traced in the textures of the land" (Ingold, 2000, p.150).

"What moves us, what makes us feel, is also that which holds us in place, or gives us a dwelling place. Hence movement does not cut the body off from the “where” of its inhabitance, but connects bodies to other bodies: attachment takes place through movement, through being moved by the proximity of others. (Ahmed, 2004, p.11)


Slowly things are starting to crystalise for me. While it would be easy and safer to limit my field of vision for the thesis to an exploration of process and materiality, random patterning and nature, something in me feels I must attend now to Suzy as a Pākehā. If I don't do it now under the guidance of Massey staff and mentors, I will never do it, and it feels important not just to me but for those who came before me and those who will come after.

Trying to phrase the title of the thesis... I've been mulling two -

  1. Becoming Pākehā/Tangata Tiriti : An exploration of the Space that binds the Space between Us; or

  2. Becoming Pākehā/Tangata Tiriti: An exploration of the Space between and the Space that binds.

I think I prefer no. 2 as it separates out both the spaces that need exploring, and it removes the word Us which I think holds assumptions and presumptions and points of view that I feel inadequate to comment on.

Some ideas -

SPACE IS RELATIONAL Doreen Massey:"A lot of what I’ve been trying to do over the all too many years when I’ve been writing about space is to bring space alive, to dynamize it and to make it relevant, to emphasize how important space is in the lives in which we live, and in the organization of the societies in which we live. "

  • Space between: memories, memories held in names of landscape, history, culture, language, values, opportunities, privilege and politics, prejudice - racial and gender, colonisation, disenfranchisement. injustice, impoverishment, organisation of societies, tangata whenua.... denial of alternatives

  • Space that binds: Te Tiriti o Waitangi/respectful equal partnership, being here in this place and space and time, belonging/home, aroha. manaakitanga, kotahitanga, love of the land, climate change, economy, justice and redress, dimension of simultaneity and multiplicity

Image sourced from Social Science Space


(i) I met with local educator and Te Reo speaker Jill Phillips who I know from my time at Playcentre. Alongside the Historical Society of Eastbourne, Jill has collated information in a kete for schools researching the history of Eastbourne. Concerned the kete held no voice of Te Atiawa (tangata whenua of Wanganui-a-Tara), Jill sought connections with people to try to remedy this. She very generously shared her experience with me and offered advice to move forward in my search to connect with tangata whenua. She suggested I ask a mutual friend to introduce me to one of three people and recommended I read Honiana Love's series of booklets, The Changing Landscape: Pā, Kāinga, Ngakinga, Urupā, and listen to a kōrero by Honiana on Nga Taonga Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land. She also gave me information on Te Reo and Raranga (flax weaving) classes.

This is a link to Honiana Love's talk, Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land

Honiana's kōrero was part of the 2020 National Library's Public History Talk Memorials, names and ethical remembering asking, "'How do we remember the past? What place do colonial memorials have in public spaces? How can we better represent diverse histories in the landscape?' ".

Honiana's discussion looked at how the naming and claiming of landscapes "defines who we are as a people living in a land". Sharing the many names and stories her iwi gave to the valleys, rivers and mountains of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, and the placement of their pā, kāinga, ngakinga, and urupā, Honiana brings to life a landscape of pre colonial times (see Google map).

The sorrow of loss is clear - as the names were replaced by settler names, the iwi's presence on the land also disappeared. Honiana relates the loss of inter-generational knowledge following the Native Schools Act 1867 which prohibited the speaking of Te Reo. This loss of knowledge has meant Honiana has had to rely on early settler writings to rediscover some of the names her ancestors gave to places.

Even more disturbing was the injustices and loss of land following the1839 New Zealand Company deed of purchase of the Port Nicholson block, the tenths reserves and land confiscations under the Public Land Act. This is summarised in the 2003 Waitangi Tribunal report on the Wellington District: Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa. It makes very sober reading.

Honiana finished by discussing the current revival to reinstate some of her iwi's place names and what this means to her people now and into the future.


Really becoming Pākehā, by Jen Margaret 2019 Fantastic article. Jen is a Treaty educator, beginning in Ōtautahi in 1990 and now in Wellington. For her daughter's sake she believes it is important "to make the Pākehā side, the “Pākehā nation,” an exciting and honourable place to be." This article offers a way forward for those of us of white settlers.

She quotes Ani Mikaere:

"There is nowhere else in the world that one can be Pākehā. Whether the term remains forever linked to the shameful role of the oppressor or whether it can become a positive source of identity and pride is up to Pākehā themselves. All that is required from them is a leap of faith._

Jen explores privilege, colonisation and racism and what Pākehā have lost by winning:

"Rebecca Solnit has coined the term Privelobliviousness to describe how being the advantaged one, the represented one, means being the one who doesn’t need to be aware. Which, as she says, “is a form of loss in its own way.” She talks of how being dominant “means seeing yourself and not seeing others” and how, in this way, privilege limits and obstructs imagination. Winning the colonisation race — the race of cultural dominance — has generated huge imbalance and loss. Māori have been the most devastated, yet Pākehā too have been damaged. ... Most Pākehā don’t know the events of our history, or our place in them. We don’t know ourselves, our white ways, and we don’t know the ways of this land. We are poorly equipped to act well in the relationships that allow us to be here."

She offers a way forward through"

  1. Unravelling privilege — remaking the Pākehā nation "The task of calling things by their true names, of telling the truth to the best of our abilities, of knowing how we got here, of listening particularly to those who have been silenced in the past, of seeing how the myriad stories fit together and break apart, of using any privilege we may have been handed to undo privilege or expand its scope is each of our tasks. It’s how we make the world. "(Rebecca Solnit.)

  2. Learning our stories — responses to Treaty education “The Crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division, and to autonomy with oppression.” (Crown apology to Parihaka, June 2017.)

  3. An amnesty on ignorance “It blows my mind how little I know about the Treaty and its history, despite having grown up in New Zealand. I wish everyone in the country could attend a Treaty workshop!” (Workshop participant.)

  4. Being “really Pākehā” — becoming (small “m”) māori Small “m” māori: normal, usual, natural, common, ordinary (Mā

  5. Everyday gestures “Undoing the social frameworks of millennia is not the work of a generation or a few decades but a process of creation and destruction that is epic in scope and often embattled in execution. It is work that involves the smallest everyday gestures and exchanges and the changing of laws, beliefs, politics, and culture at the national and international scale; often the latter arises from the cumulative impact of the former.” (Rebecca Solnit.) "Recognising that there is a will to learn but still woeful ignorance within the Pākehā nation, we counter the denigration of Māori by daily acts of myth-busting and by amplifying the real stories. Stories of Māori success and innovation, of Māori as loving parents, of the persistent collective generosity of Māori towards Pākehā. We speak out against racism — in our homes, our communities, our workplaces. We make sure our children are being taught well in schools. We learn and share the ways in which tangata Tiriti organisations are engaging with Te Tiriti. We advocate for our politicians to act respectfully and to honour Te Tiriti. We assure those who need assurance that there’s nothing to fear — that Māori sovereignty is good for all New Zealanders. It makes us whole. We support Māori initiatives — we donate, we turn up when asked, we share successes. We respond to calls for action on critical issues like freshwater, abuse in state care, and exploitation of the whenua. We support Māori political representation. We sort out our te reo pronunciation. We watch Māori TV. We enjoy Matariki events. We respect tikanga and the authority of mana whenua."

  6. We all win! Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi “To be Pakeha in this generation is sometimes to stand behind the goal line, scratching our heads, waiting for the conversion, on the wrong end of one of the great comebacks in cultural history, our coach screaming possession, possession, possession. What we do next will define us.” (Glen Colquhoun) The different game that is needed requires direction and support both from tangata whenua and from tangata Tiriti. Matike Mai Aotearoa has provided timely suggestions for the changed game. Their work envisages a “conciliatory and consensual democracy rather than an adversarial and majoritarian one.” Cooperative and consensual ways of working move us into different, respectful ways of being — ones that propel us forward while returning us to the original promise of a relationship of mutual benefit. "The government needs to seriously engage with the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal’s Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry Stage 1 report, which concluded that, in signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, rangatira affirmed hapū sovereignty. In 2017, Action Station drew together many voices to articulate a vision to sit alongside the work of Matike Mai Aotearoa. It includes these words: "In 2040, Aotearoa New Zealand will be a fair and flourishing country with care, creativity, courage and compassion at its core. We will honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of indigenous people in our constitution, our institutions and in everything we do . . . Every person in Aotearoa New Zealand understands and respects Te Tiriti as our founding document, understands the harm done by colonisation in our country, and works to heal injustices and to see Te Tiriti honoured.""

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