Karanga Mai Karanga Mai: An Exploration of Photographic Sovereignty
Smith, Rochelle Huia
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Since the advent of the Kodak Instamatic, photography has become increasingly disposable and lost archival qualities have been lost. During that time, Maori have revitalised their culture resulting in a new generation who incorporate ritual practices, tikanga Maori into their everyday, increasingly urbanised lives. Engaging with restoring mana (integrity) to the photograph, this project focuses on urban Maori and non-Maori community and utilises whakawhanaungatanga, a Maori way of identifying common bonds, established through Maori language educational networks. This paper questions how the strategy of incorporating tikanga Maori in terms of composition of family members, titles and placement within the image can contribute to a wider body of knowledge that adds to the value of photography in indigenous cultures, thereby contributing to this provisional local urban community. Early depiction of Maori and other indigenous peoples by ethnographers, expedition and commercial photographers has frequently raised questions of intention. “Tsinhnahjinnie has asserted it is the responsibility of indigenous people to create and interpret their own images activating a photographic sovereignty (1998, 2003).” Therefore, this project also tests the role of the photographer as an insider researcher, with the intention of creating new and valued photo albums depicting images of this community and reflects on the importance of Maori values today.