Leilani Kake // City Gallery Wellington

Otara-based video installation artist, Leilani Kake is currently showing her beautiful 2008 work, Tino Rangatira Tanga as a solo exhibition in the new Deane Gallery at City Gallery Wellington.

A wonderful review has recently been posted on The Big Idea website, written by Mark Amery…

The Personal and Political

Mark Amery reviews exhibitions by emerging contemporary Maori artists showing in Wellington, including Leilani Kake’s moving three-part documentary video work Tino Rangatira Tanga.

“It’s an intimate portrait of her father and whanau, and illustration of the enduring strength and relevance of waiata, korero, ta moko and tikanga Maori.”

A great joy since the reopening of City Gallery Wellington late last year has been the high standard of exhibitions in the new Deane Gallery.  In an upper chamber dedicated to emerging Maori and Pacific Island artists, curator Reuben Friend has demonstrated a keen eye for fresh engaging new work, arranged in strong sensitive conversation with each other, in a limited space.

A case in point currently is Leilani Kake’s moving three-part documentary video work Tino Rangatira Tanga. It’s an intimate portrait of her father and whanau, and illustration of the enduring strength and relevance of waiata, korero, ta moko and tikanga Maori. In Kake’s family such things are part of the rich fabric of ordinary contemporary Maori life. From the exhibition title through to the words of waiata the personal is shown to always be political, making plain the need for self-detemination for an iwi as a people, and whanau as a group.

A graduate of the Manukau Institute’s School of Visual Arts, Kake started following the activities of her father Richard Kake as a rangatira or elder (descended from a great Nga Puhi ariki) with her camera, after filming him as part of Nga Puhi’s representation in the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi to parliament in 2004. The work however ended up taking a far more personal and painful path – it starts with her father receiving a full facial moko and ends with her at his deathbed and tangihanga, four years later.

The work is deliberately, and often uncomfortably, intimate for both viewer and artist. The camera is hand held, and as if in the wharenui we are seated close together, and close too to the three walls on which the work is projected. In this way Kake explores the power of the personal being played out publicly in a way which feels completely unvoyeuristic.

With a cry of “I love you Dad” as the camera comes in as close as possible to the drawing of blood from the skin of the face, the close relationship between daughter and father is made directly clear as the video work and ta moko begins. Meanwhile the family give strength and love through singing and chanting.

The tattooing is followed by a korero from Richard Kake (notably the only korero not in song in the work), and then a celebration with more song. However we then move directly to Kake’s deathbed, family singing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song by his bedside, with the Kake version featuring the refrain: ‘is this all we’ll ever have, self-determination song’. From there it’s onto the tangihanga where, in as powerful a choral group as you could hope to hear, waiata before the coffin in the wharenui gives full flight to emotion. The work closes with a slide show of family photographs.

Works this intimate are rarely this touching or rich in political and cultural pull. Structurally it’s a smart, distinctive piece of storytelling, that moves with lightness from one moment to another. It allows Maori concepts and Leilani Kake’s involvement within the story itself to provide a frame. For her the creation of the work was part of grieving and healing process. Yet not only does the work have the universal charge of the sentiments in a Nga Puhi waiata ‘Don’t hold onto anger, here is another day’, its viewpoint of Maori counters that of the news media’s camera – which gets left at the wharenui door, and often leads you to associate moko with aggression, rather than love and self-determination.

Read more on The Big Idea

Exhibition opening audience

Leilani Kake with Curator Maori + Pacific, Reuben Friend

Install of TINO RANGATIRA TANGA

Leilani and I at the opening in Wellington (April 2010)

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CREATIVE CAREERS YOUTH EXPO // 1 MAY

I’m so proud to be part of this exciting initiative… Manukau’s first CREATIVE CAREERS YOUTH EXPO aims to highlight the potential of creative industries pathways for Pacific youth… with inspirational presentations from young Pasifika creative professionals, we hope to stimulate interest and excitement in creativity as a serious career option. The Creative Careers Youth Expo is the first event in the inaugural Manukau Pacific Arts Summit (1-29 May 2010).

Manukau’s first Creative Careers Youth Expo for young Pacific people is being held in May, aiming to empower youth to turn what they love doing into a successful career. The expo, part of the inaugural Manukau Pacific Arts Summit, recognises that creativity is inherent in Pacific people and that Pacific youth have huge potential in the creative sector.

Youth, their families and teachers are welcomed by Manukau City Council to hear first-hand from young Pacific creative professionals how they set upon their pathway and the social challenges and financial realities they have encountered.

Speakers represent a range of different creative disciplines and careers and each has a unique set of experiences and wisdom to share with youth who want to follow in their footsteps.

Musician Opeloge Ah Sam has held a wide range of musical roles over the last 15 years, including composer, conductor, professional pianist, musical stage manager, MC, event manager and solo and group performer in styles including jazz, R&B, classical and popular music.

Artist Monty Collins works with a broad array of media including graphic design, aerosol art and tattooing. He is particularly known for his masterful character work that has gained him Manukau-wide renown as part of the FDKNS crew.

Otara-based Leilani Kake is a video installation artist who holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and graduate Diploma of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland at Manukau. She regularly exhibits nationally and internationally and currently lectures contextual studies at the Manukau School of Visual Arts.

Actor Stacey Leilua has appeared on television on Shortland Street, Kila Kokonut Krew and Good Hands Lima Lelei, as well as in multiple theatre productions in both Auckland and Wellington.

Television producer Joe Taele graduated with a Bachelor of Screen Performing Arts majoring in Editing from Unitec and now works for Sky Sports. He has also edited a great number of experimental and short films.

Tertiary education providers and support organisations will also be present to provide information about their role in helping young people into creative careers.

Registration is essential for this free event, for more information please email Brett.Stirling@manukau.govt.nz or phone Nicole Lim on 09 271 6019.

What: Creative Careers Youth Expo
Presented as part of the 2010 Manukau Pacific Arts Summit
When: Saturday 1 May 2010, 10am-4pm
Where: Otara Music Arts Centre,
Otara Town Centre,
Corner Newbury and Bairds Road, Otara
Cost: Free, registration required.

Manukau’s first Creative Careers Youth Expo for young Pacific people is being held in May, aiming to empower youth to turn what they love doing into a successful career. The expo, part of the inaugural Manukau Pacific Arts Summit, recognises that creativity is inherent in Pacific people and that Pacific youth have huge potential in the creative sector.

Youth, their families and teachers are welcomed by Manukau City Council to hear first-hand from young Pacific creative professionals how they set upon their pathway and the social challenges and financial realities they have encountered.

Speakers represent a range of different creative disciplines and careers and each has a unique set of experiences and wisdom to share with youth who want to follow in their footsteps.

Musician Opeloge Ah Sam has held a wide range of musical roles over the last 15 years, including composer, conductor, professional pianist, musical stage manager, MC, event manager and solo and group performer in styles including jazz, R&B, classical and popular music.

Artist Monty Collins works with a broad array of media including graphic design, aerosol art and tattooing. He is particularly known for his masterful character work that has gained him Manukau-wide renown as part of the FDKNS crew.

Otara-based Leilani Kake is a video installation artist who holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and graduate Diploma of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland at Manukau. She regularly exhibits nationally and internationally and currently lectures contextual studies at the Manukau School of Visual Arts.

Actor Stacey Leilua has appeared on television on Shortland Street, Kila Kokonut Krew and Good Hands Lima Lelei, as well as in multiple theatre productions in both Auckland and Wellington.

Television producer Joe Taele graduated with a Bachelor of Screen Performing Arts majoring in Editing from Unitec and now works for Sky Sports. He has also edited a great number of experimental and short films.

Tertiary education providers and support organisations will also be present to provide information about their role in helping young people into creative careers.

Registration is essential for this free event, for more information please email Brett.Stirling@manukau.govt.nz or phone Nicole Lim on 09 271 6019.

What: Creative Careers Youth Expo
Presented as part of the 2010 Manukau Pacific Arts Summit
When: Saturday 1 May 2010, 10am-4pm
Where: Otara Music Arts Centre,
Otara Town Centre,
Corner Newbury and Bairds Road, Otara
Cost: Free, registration required.