Hana Pera Aoake

te tamaiti, te ao (2022)

4 min 16 secSingle channel / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

In te ao Māori, a newborn child exists between the worlds of Te whare wānanga (the womb) and Te ao marama (the world of light), and time (the past, the present and the future). Lots of kupu (words, phrases) in Te reo rangatira confirms this; for instance, to be hapū is to be pregnant, but it also refers to belonging to the community to which you are related. Babies are intimately connected to tūpuna (ancestors), as the sum of everyone you have ever loved and everyone who has come before you.

Thinking through the poem 'E Tu Papatūānuku' by the late Kāi Tahu writer, Keri Hulme, te tamaiti, te ao considers deep time and the way in which a new child is linked to ancestral knowledge, whenua and pūrakau carried down through generations. Filmed at geological formations across Te Wai Pounamu, the work is a testament to Papatūānuku, childbirth and the persistence of even the smallest moss or lichen—beings who have survived for 350 million years. How do we learn from these teachers and reinscribe the sacred for our children?

Hana Pera Aoake

te tamaiti, te ao

floating in water

in the sacred space

bubble up and down

a root grew up from your belly button

connecting your body to mine

your heart is the size of my thumbnail

it beats at 145bpm

moving your feet

your hands cover your face

pressing down on the womb

you refuse to have your photo taken

my body is weakening but determined

uenukutuwhatu please help

crying to Hineteiwaiwa.

on the northeast horizon Matariki rises

those who have been

those who exist now

those who are yet to be

the eyes of Taawhirimaatea

the black still water of the harbour

we will meet soon

my life is your life

te tamaiti o te ao

puku swells

pangs of Ruuaumoko

between worlds


te poo

the first breath

te ao

darkness to light

Other works by Hana Pera Aoake

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