Penny Howard: Karakia Precari

Artist Talk: Saturday 24 September at 2pm.

  • Opening Date: Tuesday, 20 September 2016
  • Closing Date: Sunday, 9 October 2016
  • Opening Time: Tues-Fri 11-5pm, Sat 11-4pm, Sun 11-3pm

"In January 1838 three French missionaries sailed up the Hokianga Harbour and began the institutional history of Catholicism in New Zealand. They were late starters in the race to bring Christianity to Māori - the Anglicans had arrived in 1814, the Wesleyans eight years later - but they soon made rapid progress in converting Māori. They were well supplied with men, money and material by their religious order, the Society of Mary. This had been formed in France in 1836 to convert the western Pacific region to the Catholic faith. " - Te Ara, The Encyclopeadia of NZ.

Penny Howards latest solo show at Whitespace explores the notion of Religion through diaspora and colonisation, with the context of early Maori/European history. In Particular Catholocism juxtaposed with traditional Maori religion. The exhibition is an extension of her body of work about her 3 x Great Grandmother Te Kuri O Te Wao.

Te Kuri O Te Wao, was the daughter of Paramount Chief Moka, Te Mahurehure, Nga puhi, from Waima in the Hokianga. She was a Chieftainess, Tohunga and Seer. Te Kuri O Te Wao married Irishman Thomas Cassidy and in doing so, was said to have become the first Maori woman to be baptised Catholic, as Maraea Cassidy (Katete). She however eventually renouced Catholocism and converted to the Methodist church as it was said that they supported her continuing the practice of Rongoa and other Maori spiritual rituals.

The work is a conversation around Prayer/Karakia/Precari, Wairua/Spirit, Sacred/Tapu, God/IO. A need to hold Turangawaewae, our place to stand within ourselves, how we hold space for faith, belief, ritual and forgiveness, whatever our background. It examines the machinations of religion and it's role in both war and peace. It also acknowledges Whakahoki (return) to ourselves, our whenua, of our sacred lost objects, our souls fallen in wars and how we give them Whakanoa (release fom Tapu).




There is a dog barking in the valley, the unrest causes birds to stir inner branches, she is resting her back to the universe, her feet swim, the creek bed runs past her beating heart, down her belly, running over her hip down her thigh bone, the sea mist rises, she opens her kahurangi eyes, her mouth slips silent karakia, tears fall onto the whenua count tahi, rua, toru, wha, rima… her feet step across the marae, bless Wahine Toa for she who was lost, returns to you."

- Exerpt from a poem written for Penny Howard by Doug Poole










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