date. 3 September 2023
city. Depot Artspace, Devonport
form. Exhibition opening
The exhibition was opened with an impassioned speech by Bianca Ranson, Protect Pūtiki, about damage to marine ecology caused through the building of an enormous marina on a fragile ecological site at Kennedy Bay, Waiheke Island. She discussed the work, Tuakana Teina, that she and her sister, Te Aata Rangimarie Smith, created for the exhibition. This larger than life carbon stack takes centre stage, representing Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, Ngāpuhi and the Protect Pūtiki activist group (Waiheke Island).
Protect Pūtiki, a group of mana whenua, mātāwaka, and the Waiheke community, have been rising in defence of the kororā and mauri of Pūtiki Bay against the development of a luxury marina. This work involves 300 piles being rammed into the seabed, causing a section of active kororā habitat to be completely destroyed. This is against the wishes of mana whenua and the Waiheke Community. They have been peacefully protesting at the construction site for more than twelve months. A week-long floating occupation on a pontoon led to 32 members of Protect Pūtiki being served with an injunction and sued for $700k.
Tuakana Teina is a sculpture that embodies their determination to bring these injustices to public attention. It is a ‘carbon stack’ (concept of Richard Wallis) containing the shredded 1000-page injunction and a Pōhutukawa tree that was ripped from the breakwater by the marina contractors. These artefacts represent their struggle.
"The carbon stack contributes to the composting of all food waste on Waiheke Island. When these artefacts become nutrient-rich soil and kai (food) from our māra (Community Garden), they will feed the hungry stomachs of those making this urgent stand at a time of biodiversity and climate crisis. This ‘elephant-sized’ carbon stack stands in the gallery as a reminder of the climate crisis. Time has long run out. Without radical ideas and action for the protection of te taiao (the natural world) our future is not guaranteed.
Tuakana Teina relates to our relationship to the kororā (little penguin) and all other taonga species because they are our Tuakana – they come before us in our whakapapa line. Our relationship to them is tapu (sacred) and we have an inherent responsibility to protect them.
Climate justice starts with those most vulnerable in our community including our taonga (treasured) species. Extraction, pollution, and governance have left our moana (ocean) in a biodiversity crisis, facing ecological collapse. The mauri (life force) of our moana is under threat."