Chanz Mikaere, Artist
Director on Paakiwaha
“Te Arawa Superheroes: a World First for recognising kapahaka legacies”
“In the age of Superheroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it makes sense to use the superhero genre and combine kapahaka, te reo, visual arts and technology in spectacular ways: acknowledging the kaihaka of my generation. In a time when rangatahi need powerful and positive recognisable cultural role models, the Te Arawa Superheroes are a world first: resurrecting Tupuna as recognised Kaihaka to acknowledge excellence.”
The project has been 5 years in the making. Casting the kaihaka and matching them with Tupuna, doing the necessary whakapapa narrative research and designing the images in refreshing ways takes time. “The most rewarding aspect of the entire project has been the deepening of relationships with these wahine who are all extended whanau.”
“Every kaihaka as subject and participant has contributed to the design of the images while giving me, the Artist, freedom to make the power of the images nuanced. To preserve the dignity and realities of our whakapapa, there can be no more sanitised storytelling. Passivity is an important, strategic tool, but it is not where the Te Arawa Superheroes stay…these images are deliberately designed to uplift and challenge the one dimensional portrayals of our tupuna. Emphasising the possibilities in sitting with this power, without the colonial tendencies to reduce it.”
Inspired by our whakapapa narratives, the Te Arawa Superheroes are political imaginaries. A karanga to the world that the Revolution will be lead by indigenous women.
There are 8 books in total planned for the series. This edition of the Te Arawa Superheroes recognises Whare Tangata narratives in the shaping of Te Arawa histories.
The Te Arawa Superheroes will be launched on May 6 @ Hinemihi Marae, Ngapuna, Rotorua.