“…it sticks to my teeth and colours my tongue” 2020

Boiled candy on lollipop sticks wrapped in plastic with baker’s twine in glass jar

This piece was included in my exhibition Kotahitanga 2020 at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato performing arts gallery. This exhibition was a reflection on the Kiingitanga movement, I chose Kotahitanga as the title as it is the overarching tenet of the Kiingitanga movement.

This piece draws on both my Māori and European heritage. The subtitle of the exhibition was a quote from Taawhiao, the second Māori King, “E kore teenei whakaoranga e huri ki tua o aku mokopuna” – We must provide our children and their children a better platform than the one we inherited. This concept of care for the next generation, and the next and the next is the basis of my work. The lollipops are moulds made from two taonga I have been given, one from my father and one from my sister. Both of which are the first each of them made in a certain form. I reflect on the beginnings of things, where they start and with what intent. These came from a place of manaaki and trust, a familial care, a vulnerable place of being a starting point but still becoming a gift.

Secondly, the lollipop is a cheeky acknowledgement of my mother, and how she shows her love for my children, her mokopuna. Besides actively being loving and engaged, she spoils them (however much I protest) with treats like lollipops and candy. But also, it is a reminder that the love, care and consideration of our elders impacts us everyday, in how we live and how we interact with one another.

While it is cheeky, the crux is our ancestors actions can have positive and negative consequences. It colours our speech, it can rot us, it can sweeten us, it can manipulate us. And as such, our actions have the same impact on those that come after us. We have to consider our own children, and our society as a whole.

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