Topic: ANZAC

Firing up the ANZAC debate

By Talisa Kupenga

A Kerikeri artist, known for controversially combining Māori and Pākehā heritage in his work, says his latest piece "Remember Them" aims to start talk about NZ's fallen in the lead up to Anzac Day. The image features a bare-chested woman shot with arrows, tattooed with war names and holding a mere.

Artist Lester Hall says his latest work is a tribute to all of NZ's fallen soldiers, including those from the musket wars and land wars.

“It's about why don't we not get taught about our wars in our schools? It's about who are we and how do we respect each other? How do we find each other today; Māori, Pākehā and new citizens as a unified group who are prepared to stand for and fight for each other?"

Artist Leilani Kake, says, "My initial reaction was a little bit of cultural cringe, to be honest, but then I was intrigued and wanted to know more."

Hall's target audience is European. His work is well known for creating discourse. While Kake says she respects the work's intent, she found it complicated, which distracted from its core message.

Kake says, "There's the context of indigenous representation or misrepresentation, the female body and female nude, the tattooed body, pop-culture, Christian, Western art context as well."

Hall says he deliberately uses appropriation in his work. And Kake says appropriation is vital for art to grow.

“Nothing is ever truly original. In terms for New Zealand art to grow, there needs to be experimentation, appropriation the use of different media and tools," Kake says.

Hall says, "How can I approach Māori about my conversation as a Pākehā if I don't speak to them in visuals they understand?

"I can't reference my conversation without referencing things Māori."

Kake says art is not about whether it's good or bad, it's subjective and interpretation is unique to the viewer.