Images of Maori Women – Mataahua Wahine

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK - TANDEM PRESS, 1994

They stir!
They move!
They look seaward and
They look inland.
Seeking the elusive links
The fractured chains.
Yours are the living faces
That shelter, that embrace
The many of the past and present.
You, the tau! The koka! The kuia!
We honour and greet you

MERIMERI PENFOLD
(Blessing from Images of Maori Women)

 

‘He pounamu kakano rua’ suggests that a piece of greenstone can be viewed in more than one way. The same is the case for Maori women: this book, like an M.Ed. thesis I completed in 1993 bearing the same title, asserts that Maori women: should be seen not only through the way in which we are usually represented (through the eyes of non-Maori), but in a manner that validates the way we see ourselves.

Each woman in the book was given a chance to identify and present herself in relation to her own personal, spiritual and genealogical landscape. And so we see her in her bed at Pakipaki, in her back garden beside her harakeke (flax) in Moerewa, or in her home at Waiomio with pictures of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren behind her. These are the places from which many wahine Maori view the world (as opposed to the way many colonial artists and film-makers have viewed them); and in the process we learn who they are, where they stand and the struggles each has.”

Glynnis Paraha

 

“The wonder of these portraits is not simply in their clarity but in the way Moir has captured such a diversity of backgrounds. We are brought into the lives of these people and connected to them through the settings in which they are placed. We understand far more about each life than the word portrait would suggest.”

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune

“During 1992 I travelled to many parts of the North Island, from the Hawke’s Bay to the Hokianga, to spend time with Maori women, young and old, in their own homes. Using a Rolliflex camera I photographed each woman in the own landscape, and in turn each woman wrote a piece about herself to accompany her image.

This book represents months of travelling, photographing, living with families, and, most importantly, forming friendships with the women I was honoured to be introduced to. To have been welcomed into these women’s lives has been an experience that will always be part of me, and I would like to thank all of them for giving me the trust and support that allowed this work to evolve.”

MICHELLE MOIR