Ma tou rourou, ma toku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
(Audio 10. 04 min, woven canvas kete)
Within this space 253 kete (traditional baskets) are collected and presented, woven by a group of people over a number of weeks. The material used is coated canvas and the potential in this material lies in its ability to emulate harakeke (flax); the traditional material for weaving. Placed formally in the poutama (depicting the stairway to heaven) a common pattern used inside the wharenui, the wall work represents our creation story involving the ascension of Tane to the heavens to collect the three baskets of knowledge for man.
Queen Victoria School for Maori Girls was an Anglican boarding school established in Parnell, Auckland in 1901. Although the School was set up, in part at least, as a place to assimilate Maori girls into a more European way of being, this work focuses on the collective benefits and experiences of the girls who attended.
As you stand in this space you hear the voices of girls from Queen Victoria School (Ngatapa Black, Hikitia Harawira, Beth Tauroa, Aroha Lewin, Debra Jensen) sharing their memories, and having the sorts of conversations that might be heard within a wharenui. In this installation, the idea of exchange has played an important role from the inception of the mahi – an exchange of knowledge, of conversations, of labour from all the individuals who contributed:
“With your contribution and my contribution we will make progress.”
 With your basket and my basket the people will live (Maori proverb)