Mahiriki Tangaroa
Earth, Wind & Fire….Irrespective of Place
New Paintings
22 July – 17 August

Opening Monday 22 July, 6pm with CITC Liquor. All Welcome.

Speakers
Tina Browne, Leader of the Opposition | MP for Rakahanga
Brett Porter, Director, TOA Petroleum
Mahiriki Tangaroa, Exhibiting Artist

For a moment, lets imagine our society without history, religion, politics, ancient traditions, and what we consider to be ‘culture’. What would we have? If we were to start building, where would we start? Since my second year at Ilam School of Fine Arts, in 1995 ‘time and space’ had been a subject of interest. Further to this, the question was, is it our identity or / and environment that conditions the way we think and behave? Is this Culture? Furthermore what is Culture and how do we define this?

“The concept for this exhibition developed when national discussions re-emerged about a proposed name change away from the Cook Islands or its local vernacular ‘Kuki Airani’. As an advocate for cultural identity, this is a topic that I feel strongly about and, the question formed in my mind, ‘is this a national priority?’

Cook Islands society is experiencing substantial social changes including, continuing depopulation and a rising level of foreign labour, poor public health and education standards, rapid cultural evolution and access to technology and, record breaking numbers in tourism arrivals with its associated impact on outdated national infrastructure and the environment. How effectively are we addressing these changes? Do we have the foundation to support and manage these changes? Are we protecting our community and resources? Are the political, traditional and private sector leadership pillars of society taking responsibility and serving the needs of the people? Where do we see ourselves in twenty years time? Surely these are priorities far and beyond an abstract backlash to a colonial era country name.

The exhibition Earth, Wind & Fire, Irrespective of Place, is about life’s key elements. It is about stepping back, attempting to maintain an objective view of our breakable island environment, about identifying fundamental necessities and marrying them with our values and priorities as Cook Islanders. It questions whether or not we have our priorities in perspective.

In 1999, I was gifted a book entitled Guns, Germs & Steel by Jarrod Diamond. It was about how some human societies evolve better than others, if proper attention is paid to securing a human social system that exists in in harmony with nature. As we evolve as a species, as a global collective, it is necessary that we identify and effectively respond to change, for our survival.

While the Cook Islands has made recent advances in solar power generation, marine conservation and bans on single use plastics, for this exhibition I wanted to make a statement: When social changes are occurring at an increasing rate, within a confined, isolated, and vulnerable environment, do we have the foresight to recognize national priorities that will protect and conserve our country not just for ourselves, but, as best we can, for the many generations to come.” Mahiriki Tangaroa. 

All images by Turama Photography.