Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds // Media Release

Media release

23 January 2011

Powerful South Auckland exhibition confronts Pacific body politics

A new exhibition presented by Fresh Gallery Otara for the Auckland Arts Festival confronts cultural attitudes towards the female body and the high rates of preventable cancers and heart disease in Pacific and Māori women. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds, is a bold and powerful video installation by Otara artist Leilani Kake, who is of Cook Island Maori (Manihiki, Rakahanga) and New Zealand Māori (Nga Puhi, Tainui) descent.

The work combines imagery of four women at different life stages; youth, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause, inviting the viewer to reflect about the Pacific female body.

Kake’s work is influenced by highly personal stories of dealing with issues of identity and culture, tradition and change. “Loving our whanau starts with loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves; physically, mentally and spiritually. We as women of the Pacific need to engage in discourse that will lower these health risk statistics and educate all our whanau.”

A 2010 New Zealand government report stated that Pacific and Māori women have been twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as other women, and their risk of dying from the illness is more than twice that for other ethnicities.
These startling statistics point to the need for greater public awareness and action; as such, the controversial content of the exhibition is deliberately intended to draw attention to the health issues of at risk women.

Exhibition curator Ema Tavola says that it is exciting to bring such a major work to the Otara community. “In terms of scale and content, this is the most significant exhibition ever produced for Fresh Gallery Otara.”

“Idealised depictions of women’s bodies in the mass media abound, while images of bodies like our own and those of our family are noticeably absent. This exhibition, with its realistic nude bodies, challenges the way that we perceive the female body.”

This exhibition contains nudity. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Entry to the exhibition is at the discretion of gallery staff.

Leilani Kake received significant funding from Creative New Zealand for this project and Fresh Gallery Otara has been supported by Toi o Manukau and Manukau School of Visual Arts (Manukau Institute of Technology) in presenting the exhibition.

What / Where / When

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds, a solo exhibition by Leilani Kake, curated by Ema Tavola
Exhibition dates: 4 March – 16 April 2011
Fresh Gallery Otara, Shop 5, 46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland

Public programmes:

In Conversation – The Taboo Body
Leilani Kake, Luisa Lefao-Setoga, Ema Tavola in conversation with Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai
12.30pm – 1.30pm, Monday 14 March Pacific Crystal Palace Spiegeltent in Festival Garden

Artist Talk / White Night
Artist’s floor talk with Leilani Kake followed by a fun night of music and entertainment with FMC VXN and friends
6pm – late, Saturday 12 March
Fresh Gallery Otara

Panel Discussion – Body, Community, Future
19 March, 12pm – 2pm
Four local women discuss the social health and artistic implications of Leilani Kake’s new work, Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds.

Images available on request.

For more information please contact Erin Stewart 09 262 8900 x 8690

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Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds – A solo exhibition by Leilani Kake
Curated by Ema Tavola for the Auckland Arts Festival
Fresh Gallery Otara
South Auckland
Aotearoa New Zealand
4 March – 16 April 2011

Women, Water and the Moon

Fresh Gallery Otara is a community gallery in the Otara Town Centre, frequented by children, students, artists and the elderly. It has a mandate to reflect life in Otara, to engage audiences and stimulate discussion.

Leilani Kake is a member of the Otara community; an educator, mother, artist – a staunch ambassador for the Southside. Armed with strong cultural foundations and a firm foothold in a South Auckland / South Pacific reality, her four-channel video installation bravely confronts the cultural taboo of nudity. Whilst mass media imagery of women’s bodies floods our visual landscape, public displays of female nudity in a community context has the potential to inspire controversy and discomfort.

Inspired by the disproportionate statistics of preventable cervical and breast cancer amongst Māori and Pacific women, the artist invites viewers to consider the body and how we perceive it. And further, to consider that relationship in relation to our wellbeing as a community.

Enveloped in the watery darkness of this work, we are alone with our thoughts. The work’s four walls represent four pou, four stages of womanhood. In the watery darkness, the balance between the women, the water and the moon is in constant flux. As viewers, we are the centre of the gaze – confronted and surrounded, fluctuating between comfort and discomfort.

This work delivers the impact typical of Kake’s practice, speaking to the human condition, universal and primitive, and simultaneously to the special cultural context of indigenous women of the Pacific region.

Known for her emotional, performance-based practice referencing ritual and tradition, family and relationships, Kake’s visual language encourages her community to engage with issues affecting them. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds exposes the inextricable links joining Polynesian femininity to power, religion, sexuality and privacy.

In terms of scale and content, this is the most significant exhibition ever produced for Fresh Gallery Otara. Kake has been part of the Gallery’s community since it opened in 2006. She has been educated and trained in Otara and continues to live and work here. It is perhaps the most appropriate exhibition for us to present in the regional Auckland Arts Festival programme, to represent the site-specific curatorial approach that has been fostered here.

We are hugely grateful for the opportunity to present this exhibition for the Auckland Arts Festival, and for the significant support from Manukau Institute of Technology Department of Creative Arts and Toi o Manukau. The support from my colleagues in Arts and Culture South, Auckland Council, have made this project a reality; thank you so much.

Ema Tavola
Pacific Arts Coordinator
Auckland Council South