“... to see the complex layers of history; even to consider contemporary geo-political activities wherein monuments are destroyed and dominant narratives are revised and rewritten. It draws us into a dialogue that helps move us past the binary propositions of good and bad, rebel and loyalist.... to squeeze the festering historical pus of a century and a half of grievance and hurt out of the tribal corpus. With decaying matter removed from our wounds - and there clearly are wounds - the living flesh is encouraged to regenerate and reconnect.
2016 / Narrations and Perspectives / Denis O'Rielly

“...the photographic residue of an event ... that has played its part in creating the ‘natural order’ of our condition in contemporary Aotearoa. ... the remnants of such events are real, and continue to fill our prisons and psychiatric hospitals. It is the natural order of things, unless we have the audacity to change them.
2016 / The Natural Order of Things / Brett Graham

On October 12th 1866, 200 militiamen and a similar number from local hapū surrounded a party of approximately 100 Pai Mārire followers encamped at Ōmarunui pā, mainly comprised of Ngāti Hineuru. After an ambigous response to an invitation to surrender, the occupied kāinga was besieged. Many Ngāti Hineuru were killed with the balance taken prisoner and exiled to Rēkohu, along with whānau who were taken prisoner at Herepoho near Pētane. Those events and the subsequent outcomes remain contentious; conflicting perspectives endure.

Photography was as an integral part of the colonial machinery. These works examine glass-plate negatives from the national archives. Because of the complex interplay that led to the negatives being made, these tarnished pieces of old glass offer a refracted view of the folding together of Māori and Pākehā.

One image is of a stone obelisk. In 1916, on the day of the 50th anniversary of the events, a memorial was unveiled. The 7ft obelisk was deliberately knocked off its pedestal in the 1990’s. Today, this corroded and prone power symbol holds that violent events are not contained or neutered by the passage of time.

The work was exhibited on the 150th anniversary of the events at Ōmarunui.

Email to view catalogue.

Further selected Media:

2016 / Essay / Ōmarunui: Present Tense / Peter Ireland
2016 / Essay / Ōmarunui: Artist Statement and He Kupu Whakamihi / Jono Rotman
2016 / Opinion / Matthew Mullany: Looking back to look forward / Hawkes Bay Today


2016 / Ōmarunui / Parlour Projects / Hastings, Aotearoa New Zealand

All work © Jono Rotman.