There are twenty-seven photographs in this exhibition. The title, Pūtahi / Confluence, describes the meeting of two peoples in one land – what is now and what could have been. As Neil Pardington has observed: "The whenua is a witness to change. Ancient sites of occupation, pā sites, sites of land war battles and subsequent land confiscations are all around us. While some are memorialised, the histories of many are known only to iwi and those with an interest in the history of Aotearoa. Appropriation and exploitation of whenua, awa, roto and moana is central to the colonial project – reflecting the values of that system. By viewing natural taonga colliding with infrastructure and urban landscapes, each image reflects a part of the story of the colonisation of Aotearoa."
In the ongoing series Pūtahi / Confluence: Tauraka Toi, are images of Moeraki, Matakaea, Waihemo, Huriawa and Waikouaiti. The Moeraki tākiwa was home to Neil's tūpuna wahine – and so Moeraki and nearby Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki were chosen as the starting point. Photographed are sites significant to Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe and Kāi Tahu iwi. Waitaha lived in Te Whata Pāraerae, Waihemo from as early as 1300 AD. Te Raka-a-hinetua, the pā site of Taoka at Kātiki, and Te Pā a Te Wera, the pā site of Te Wera at Huriawa, were both fortified pā set in dramatic coastal landscapes.
In the back gallery, the suite of smaller images, Tai Moana Tai Tangata, was made alongside Brett Graham's exhibition and book of the same name. Neil Pardington designed that publication. His photographs capture impacts of colonisation on the Taranaki and Waikato rohe, including the Pioneer Gun Turrets, war memorials and the 'Think Big' energy sites at Kapuni and Ōpunake.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.