We look to the past and find inspiration in the echoes of determination and the various examples of strategic innovation and networking, in the resourcefulness and intentional action to see our future autonomy endure. That's the nature and precedence that has been left for us by our predecessors and it's this understanding that inspired our upcoming Limited Edition collection, Te Aparautaki.
Everything from the design to the production to the development of our imagery and campaign was inspired and guided by more than just ourselves, but by the example set in the lived experiences of our forebears, and the like minded artists following in their footsteps.
Te Aparautaki, launching Sunday 5 November, draws on the pursuit of peace. Our heritage is full of examples of conflict - ko te tangi a te pū - the call to action - has resounded when this balance has been endangered, with our people constantly rising to dissolve the threat, in the name of peace. Whilst war of the physical nature is to be avoided at almost all cost, the challenge many of us face everyday and must continue to campaign against, is one of monoculturalism, of separatism, of hierarchy and bigotism.
Like our ancestors, we must be resolute and unwavering in determining our destiny, in defining success, and pursuing our goals with vigour. We play to our strengths and work hard to develop our capabilities. We advance strategically - coordinated and precise - we persevere and hold steadfast to our values in pursuit of our vision, in our pursuit of peace.
Working with photographer Holly Burgess (Ngāpuhi, Te ātihaunui-a-pāpārangi) and models Devon Toi (Ngāpuhi) and Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi (Ngāpuhi/Tauranga Moana), adorned by Kiri Nathan kākahu, we embarked on a journey to Rangiriri Pā to bring our newest collection to life.
Rangiriri is the site Māori from the area determined would be the collective standing point when war was declared upon our people. With such a deep and devastating history here, we wanted to honour our ancestors and reimagine what could be for the future.
To pay homage to the Rangiriri story, we first look to the hau kainga (the home people) of Ngāti Naho, Waikato and acknowledge their unfaltering determination to see their ancestral legacy endure, with the restoration of the original fortifications from the Battle of Rangiriri in 1863. Our hosts upheld our traditional values of manaakitanga (hospitality), ensuring we were cared for holistically; spiritually, we were welcomed upon and into the pā, a blessing of the new collection was conducted, and we were formally inducted into the space and home base of the tribe.
We are forever indebted to Brad Totorewa and the staff at Rangiriri Paa for their tremendous kindness and generosity. Another testament to the strength of our ancestral ties that have constantly seen this intergenerational reciprocation of care.
Rangiriri can be reflected as ‘the troubled skies', without a doubt this was also a tohu (sign) for our ancestors that identified the location for what was to be the great stand against the tidal wave of colonisation. True to its name, the skies above Rangiriri swirled with clouds, winds blew across the pā and the threat of rain loomed above the entire shoot day.
The recently restored trenches quickly humbled our crew. As we entered, we were starkly reminded of the tremendous challenge that was met by our forebears and their unfaltering courage against a monstrous foe. The hand made trenches towered above our heads in places, and dug deep into the earth. The immense earthworks completed with only the Kō (digging implement) by experts of strategic warfare. The eastern rampart of the pā reaches towards the waterway which was the escape route for many women and children, most of which died as they fled. We remember them and our many lost loved ones and drew upon their fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds. The scene was set.
“To me, there was a deep sense of timelessness. Time stood still as the wind blew through us, the blankets took on a life of their own. It was magic” - Holly Burgess
Something we had not fully comprehended before arriving at Rangiriri was the return of the woollen blanket to this military environment. Whilst the introduction of the woollen blanket in our NZ history was in the early trade and settler movement, its robust and durable quality meant it was a common attire for both the British and Māori of the NZ Land Wars period.
To see the harsh structure of the trenches as a backdrop for the soft enveloping nature of the woollen blanket spoke directly to the equilibrium of peace and harmony we believe in. The woollen blanket had returned, reimagined and imbued with the very values that our people stood, fought and died for. It was a beautiful reminder of why we’re here and a reassurance of our endeavour to continue to weave these values into our work.
Launching Sunday 5 November, this Limited Edition Collection is available in limited numbers, once sold, it’s sold for good. We invite you to follow us on Instagram and to sign up to our database as we share more about our new collection and details of its release.