Ashleigh Taupaki | University of Auckland Foundation Kupe Leadership Scholar

Master of Fine Arts

My passion area lies within Māori concepts of place and identity, which I explore greatly in my work at university. While speaking with the elders in the Whangamatā area during their Kaumatua meeting, I asked why this meeting was being held in the RSA as opposed to a marae or some designated space that was their own. They started telling me about the land issues in Hauraki and the difficulties they faced in securing a place of their own. The land they were eventually offered was a landfill. It was shameful to think that their struggle led to an offer like this.

I believe this situation calls for leadership documenting and continuing their battles. It is important to record these stories and bring to light a Māori perception of place which is central to our culture and being. Through my photography and sculptural practice, I hope to contribute to this discourse within the Hauraki region, with particular focus on my iwi, Ngāti Hako, who have lost a lot of their own narratives and sense of place due to a long history of violence and displacement.

Sponsor: The University of Auckland Foundation

Mentor: Qiane Matata-sipu, journalist, photographer and social activist