Tāku Huia Kaimanawa
(Ngāi Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Ngāti Kahungunu, Clan Cameron of Erracht)
Ko te tangi a te manu
Hui, hui, hui hui mai
Huia i runga
Huia i raro
Huia i roto
Huia i waho
Huia te muka tangata mai Hawaiki
The sacred huia bird is a powerful reminder of the concept of mana or rangitira. It’s symbolic value emphasised by its unique lineage, setting it apart from other birds in the spiritual realm of Tāne Mahuta. Originally named Manutea, the huia's body turned black to represent Te Kore, while its tail feathers were adorned with white edges to represent its journey through the heavens.
For over twenty years, Fiona Pardington has sought out and photographed taonga of the natural and cultural world held in collections worldwide. Some seventeen years after her first photographs of the now extinct huia, Pardington came to her iwi rohe, Te-Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay, to photograph huia held in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection.
In what must be considered a distinct project, Pardington photographs huia in museum storehouses and private collections infusing these birds with new presence through exquisite large-scale portraits such as these. In this way, these images capture and temper a second extinction as the lifespan of these now century-old birds in taxidermy is limited also.
Pardington has talked of photography as a place of memory and mourning. These haunting photographs mourn the loss of this sacred bird, not by way of laying them to rest, but in such a way that huia are brought into the realm of the living like treasures returned to the world.
All works courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite Gallery.
Join us to hear the artist's representative, Starkwhite’s Kelly Carmichael in conversation with curator Toni Mackinnon at 11am, Saturday 20th May.
Entry is free.
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