“Mana for Jam” – Maori Culture For Sale At Toi Poneke?

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The economic and social value of Maori culture to New Zealand and the way that it is marketed and sold to the world is the theme of a new exhibition called Mana for Jam at Wellingtons Toi Poneke Gallery from Friday 31 May to Saturday 22 June.

The exhibitions curator, Reuben Friend, says it explores the value of Maori cultural capital, and the lengths people are willing to go to sell themselves and their culture to the world.

Mana for Jam looks at this concept of self-sufficiency, and the idea of selling ones cultural capital to the world to earn a living questioning the appropriateness of some of those actions in relation to Tino Rangatiratanga.

The title plays on the phrase money for jam an expression that originated during the First and Second World Wars. When money and food rations were in limited supply, non-essential items such as jam were seen as luxuries.

In recent years the global economic recession has forced many people to return to the ways of their grandparents, planting gardens and re-learning handicrafts such as sewing and preserving food. For Maori communities, these types of practices are part of their concept of Tino Rangatiratanga.

Tino Rangatiratanga, at its core, is about autonomy and self-sufficiency. These practices alleviate our reliance on money and help us to cater for our own needs using our own resources, says Friend.

Six artists have contributed to Mana for Jam, commenting on everything from the value of Maori in the New Zealand labour force, to the way Maori television and movie celebrities sell their ethnicity on the big screen.

Mana for Jam opens at Toi Poneke on Thursday 30 May.

Like their Facebook page here >https://www.facebook.com/ManaForJam

2 COMMENTS

  1. Ehibition Curator Reuben Friend. May I ask why you are making the situation worse by reinforcing the Rape of our People. It is bad enough that a Rape of our people occur on a daily basis but you stoling the fires so the Rape bacomes a Block Rape, how do you think I feel reading this and knowing that your intellectual Processes leave no stone unturned in protecting and justifying your witness status. Do you think I am been too harsh by using the word Rape and i am referring to your display of MANA JARS. Why arent you informing your colleagues that this is not ART, this is hurting your own people. This is what happens when you get intellectual and Academic like you lose touch with your Maternal side. i am maternal and I am in touch with my Maternal side. I ask you pull thsi display on behalf of all Indigenous thru out the world and all Women that give birth to the MANA of our INDIGENOUS BREED.

    • Hi Frances,
      Thanks for your comment. In 2009 I curated a show at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt entitled ‘Plastic Maori’ (see link below) that looked at use of synthetic materials used to develop customary Maori art forms. The exhibition revealed alot about what is happening in Maori culture at the moment. Myself and the other artists in this exhibition are interested in talking about real issues that are facing Maori people and culture today. Too often we like to promote a beautiful image of Maori culture to the world, and push the stuff we don’t want to talk about to one side. I do welcome you to come to the exhibition to look at the art works or visit the facebook page and blog site where we will be posting images of the exhibition and inviting people to read our writing and to also share your thoughts with us on line.

      http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/29822/plastic-maori

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