"Hau is the first in a series of four moving image works, under the project title Ō Ratou Tāonga Katoa, or "all our treasures". This term was a critical clause exploited by the British in our Nation's founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi. The project explores different aspects of the historical, social, and multicultural tensions at play within our connection to place and the fabric of our collective identity.
Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakairo, Fayne Robinson, carves a pear fruit from the wood of a pear tree planted in the year 1846 at the south end of Riccarton House by early settler, John Deans. The patterns Robinson carves represent his interpretations of the kaupapa of Robinson’s ancestor, Tāwhaki, and Tāwhaki’s journey to acquire knowledge of his ancestors.
Responding to visual and audio documentation of Robinson carving, the film moves variously between realism and abstraction, invoking a sense of displacement of time. Hau is accompanied by a richly evocative soundscape, designed by Kate Belton and mastered by Malcolm Riddoch. This includes Taoka Pūoro and Karakia by Mahina Kaui and Ariana Tikao.
Hau is a gentle meditation on our sense of belonging to place. Across cultures the symbol of the pear often represents unity, fertility and longevity. We have used the pear here to represent our home, Aotearoa, as well as the home of the heart. The Chinese consider it a bad portent to halve a pear in a partnership. The child in the film places the pear halves back together in a gesture of reconciliation. A narrated passage at the conclusion of the film from Tarkovsky’s film, Stalker (1979), is narrated by Kate Belton’s Grandfather, who was also a carver. In a voice made brittle with age, the narrator reminds us that the old ways are not always the way forward, and that there is strength to be found in the reflexiveness and vulnerability of youth. While we must necessarily look back to acknowledge our past, it is the child like the sapling, who draws upon their roots and with their ability to readily adapt, can be amongst our greatest teachers.
As the Christchurch rebuild continues we are presented with the promise of something new and with it, the opportunity to reflect on ourselves as a community. In the shaping of a healthy, inclusive and democratic new city we must remember our past. We have a responsibility to acknowledge our history, celebrate our diversity, and embrace the opportunity to redress mistakes of the past.
The rebuild provides us with an opportunity to fulfill our commitments to our Tāngata Whenua. The retelling of our kaupapa can provide strong agency in the healing and the shaping of our city. Setting the film in a contemporary context provides discourse around the themes of intergenerational loss, trauma and recovery. These themes remain relevant in a city still in recovery and are central to the healing of place and people. This project endeavours to engage a wider community and stimulate agency for reflection and conversation. We hope that the project acts to bring people together, affirming their sense of value for our place and sense of belonging." - Artist Statement
Concept and Direction: Kate Belton
Cinematography: John Chrisstoffels
Post Production Editors: Daniel Belton and Kate Belton
Sound Arrangement: Malcolm Riddoch and Kate Belton
Kaiwhakairo: Fayne Robinson
Actors: Ben Brown, Mahina Kaui, James Korako and Rakiatea Tau
Taoka Puoro: Mahina Kaui and Ariana Tikao