Wahine Kotahi

Wahine Ma | Wahine Kotahi is a response to the 1970's work of NZ artist Gordon Walters and his famous koru series. His contemporary koru patterns were symbolic of Maori rock art which he held particular interest in for over 30 years.

In my view, Gordon Walters became famous through appropriating Maori symbols. He was once quoted as saying ... 'all I have done with the koru motif is make a reference to it and naturally, since I'm a contemporary Pakeha artist, the result is not Maori art. It's not supposed to be.' He took what he wanted from the Maori created koru symbols and claimed originality.

Acknowledging the source of ideas and conepts is very important in a Maori world. By doing this, we give respect and remembrance to the past - the peoples, the time, the places and spaces, and also vibration (mana) those ideas were seeded from.

Western culture on the other hand operates in a more 'ownership' way, which has come from a colonising mindset. So, I can understand how Gordon Walters may have thought he wasn't creating Maori art. However, from a Maori perspective, he actually was. Regardless of what he believed, he was contributing to the growth, continuance and development of that original seed/idea. It may not have looked like 'traditional' Maori art in a physical sense, but the essence or non tangible component was very much present. Incidentally, he also gave many of his artworks Maori titles.

Without proper acknowledgement, Gordon Walters was ignorantly 'stealing' the spirit of our ancestors and putting it into his art. The New Zealand art culture and establishment has applauded him for this ever since.

Wahine Ma | Wahine Kotahi has many layers. The top layer obviously talks about appropriation, but on a deeper level they talk about colonisation through my eyes as a child growing up in the 1970's-80's.

Acknowledgement: NZ HISTORY