Kaitiaki o te Wai
This project explored the use of kaupapa Māori and artistic techniques as a way of contributing to environmental remediation. We are currently experiencing significant real world changes as seen with the recent flooding in Aotearoa. There are ways Te Āo Māori can work with technology to aid in this remediation and help us survive and live healthy lives.
The project took place at two sites, Lake Pupuke and Eskdale stream, and involved interacting with individuals in the community. Chief among these were Jaime Calvert (The Kaipātiki Project), Karen Thompson and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA), Cody Mankelow and Juan Schutte (UOA: the Faculty of Science and Engineering), Ebi Hussain & Maddison Jones (Aotearoa lakes).
As my research into restorative action developed I discovered that the lake had large historic kākahi (freshwater mussel) beds which were once a natural filter for its waters. The kākahi which were lacking in Lake Pupuke could however be found in Eskdale Stream. Through kākahi surveys and dialogue with experts I was able to understand the significance of these taonga which quickly became the basis for my works and the remediation methods I pursued.
Methods of filtration were a primary focus when considering sculptural artefacts because the incorporation was biochar.
As the research developed the capabilities and significance of the kākahi became more apparent. The design and creation of vessels to house kākahi as a freshwater remediation tactic seemed to align with both a Mātauranga Māori and ecological science perspective. From a Māori perspective kākahi are precious taonga that provide a clear indication of a lake or river's health and from an ecological science perspective their filtration capabilities are unmatched.
I sought to create nursery vessels which protect the kākahi, allow opportunities for breeding to occur and speak to the indigenous knowledge and practices through its design.
This project has the potential to further research in the field of a transition to sustainable ecosystems by creating awareness in individuals while aiming to inspire responsibility for protecting our fresh waterways and taonga such as kākahi.