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Michael Parekowhai: Remembering the Maori Battalion

When:

Wed 27 May 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Thu 28 May 2015, 10:00am–9:00pm
Fri 29 May 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Sat 30 May 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Sun 31 May 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm

Where: Te Papa, 55 Cable St, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: tepapaevents

This exhibition comprises four flower photographs commemorating the soldiers of the New Zealand (Maori) Pioneer Battalion who died on European battlefields during World War I and never returned home. They are from Michael Parekowhai’s series of 12 photographs, ‘The consolation of philosophy: Piko nei te matenga’.

Only 50 years after the New Zealand Wars between Māori and the Crown, Māori signed up to fight for ‘God, King, and Country’ as part of the British Empire. The Maori Battalion, formed in 1917, was the first fully Māori unit.

Most Māori soldiers were not conscripted but volunteered. Art writer Cushla Parekowhai has said they believed that military service was both a ‘sacred obligation and … an opportunity for adventure’.

Pristine, frozen, and still. The lavish artificial flower arrangements are eloquent memorials to the Maori Battalion soldiers who died in Europe and remain buried on foreign soil.

Each photograph in this series is named after a French or Belgian battlefield. Māori deaths on the ‘killing fields’ of Europe were seen as a just sacrifice, art writer Cushla Parekowhai has said. They were the patriotic price that would ‘secure for Māori the same privileges and recognition that Pākehā [European New Zealanders] already enjoyed at home’.

Image: Detail from Michael Parekowhai's 'Ypres'. From the series The consolation of philosophy: Piko nei te matenga: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/996856.

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