Ruby Solly & Alistair Fraser – Te Wheke
Please join us to mark the opening of Te Wheke, a new exhibition by Ruby Solly (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe) and Alistair Fraser (Pākehā).
Te Wheke; the octopus. A creature that Kupe followed here from Hawaiiki, but what if it wasn’t just a creature, but a map within itself? Takaroa has te wheke as an ariā; not a song, but an animal’s skin for his wairua to slink inside of. This wheke is an ancient map with eight lines of islands reaching out from Hawaiki; the spiritual home of what we now have as bones, and sinews to wrap them as water wraps the land.
For each limb of te wheke, a sacred waka was made. Protected by birds, by taniwha, by whales and words bringing with them the treasures of Hawaiki. Bringing with them gourds, and birds, and adzes, and seeds, and more and more koha for our new nation as they search for new koha from the land. Pounamu, pakohe; new treasures from new lands, from a woman turned green and cold until we warm pieces of her in our hands, on our chests as they hang from our necks. We; the descendants of journeys never completed, nourished by the descendants of the gifts we were bestowed, both the beautiful and the dangerous.
Te wheke too is a way we navigate our own bodies and the relationships they form. A reach too far in one direction takes us away from something vital that lies in another. Try to stretch yourself too thin and you will struggle to hear the rhythms of the distant shores as they compete for your attention.
In the center you are the head of te wheke. Let yourself move through the oceans as they rise, follow the descent of toroa, of rains, of ourselves, and travel to and from not so foreign shores. Here as the pacific, te wheke, voyagers of the past made future.
– Ruby Solly & Alistair Fraser
Ruby Solly (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe) is a taonga pūoro practitioner, musician, composer, music therapist, and writer, living in Pōneke. She has performed with artists such as Yo-yo Ma, Marlon Williams, Trinity Roots and Rikki Gooch. She has composed for groups such as the Auckland Philharmonia, as well as solo working including her debut album, Pōneke, which looks at the way histories both colonial and Māori inform the sounds of our landscapes. Her first book, Tōku Pāpā, was published by Victoria University Press in early 2021, and has been included in literary festivals around Aotearoa including Auckland Writer’s Festival where Ruby was curator Māori. Ruby is currently completing a doctorate in public health at Massey University focusing on the use of taonga pūoro in hauora Māori.
Alistair Fraser (Pākehā) is a manu whakatangitangi a ngā taonga pūoro, a player, composer, maker and researcher of ngā taonga pūoro who has been making, performing and composing with these musical instruments since 1999. Al has elegantly woven taonga pūoro into many projects recognised as being at the forefront of Aotearoa arts practice and puoro Māori, through musical collaborations with artists such as Dr Richard Nunns, Ariana Tikao, Riki Gooch, Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal, Ruby Solly, Bridget Douglas, Grove Roots, and the NZ Symphony Orchestra. Alistair has collaborated with dance practitioners including Lemi Ponifasio (Jerusalem, NZ Festival of the Arts 2020) Ōkareka, Daniel Belton, Jack Gray, and Lou Pōtiki Bryant, and visual artist Joe Michael (Voices For The Future, NYC United Nations Building with music by Rhian Sheehan and Brian Eno 2019).
Alistair has released six solo and collaborative albums through Rattle Records since 2018, Toitū Te Pūoro, Shearwater Drift, Ponguru, Panthalassa, Mixed Messages and Nau Mai E Kā Hua. In 2020 Alistair and Riki Gooch released their album, Rangatira, through Noa Records and in 2021 release Bird Like Men as part of the ensemble Tararua through Oro Records.
Alistair was a researcher for Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Otago University from 2017-2020, researching Moriori musical instrument culture. He completed two research trips to the United Kingdom and Ireland to investigate taonga pūoro held in collections there, the first in 2015, the second in 2016 as a Churchill Fellow.
Opens: Wednesday 8 September, 5.30pm (with refreshments from Liberty Brewing Company)
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 4pm
Closes: Saturday 2 October