Earthline Tattoo Collective: Aotearoa Part 2

Earthline Tattoo travels to Aotearoa to visit with old friends and to make new ones in an International Indigenous Collaborative Exchange project funded by the Canada Council of the Arts and their Aboriginal Peoples Collaborative Exchange: International grant.

Portrait Painting by Gottfried Lindauer of Maori using Uhi

Portrait Painting by Gottfried Lindauer of Maori using Uhi

The Canada Council states on its website that, “The Aboriginal Peoples Collaborative Exchange (APCE) program provides support for Aboriginal

artists to travel to other Aboriginal communities to collaborate in a traditional or contemporary artistic practice.” We as a collective are honored and thankful for opportunity to travel to New Zealand and grow our knowledge and skills as we continue along the journey of reviving our respective nations tattoo practices and seek to support the revival of Indigenous tattooing across Canada.

As with any overseas adventure it begins with a short 16-hour travel extravaganza, my wife Jayne and I got on our first connecting flight from Kelowna to Vancouver and then boarded a second plane which dropped us off at our destination in Auckland after a total 18 hours of sitting, security screening, and lots of waiting.


Jayne and I had two days to explore the beautiful city of Auckland before Amy Malbeuf and Jordan Bennett arrived. Well one and a half days, considering we slept for half of the first day recovering from travel fatigue. During our first day we wandered through the many street and explored the many amazing little shops in the Central Business District of Auckland. We visited the Maritime Museum which shares the rich history of ocean travel in Aotearoa and across the Pacific.


Jayne and I both really enjoyed the first section of the whole exhibition as it outlined the migration patterns of the early Polynesian ocean travellers which eventually populated the many Pacific islands. The presentation of this history is beautifully narrated by many physical examples of canoes and implements like intricately carved bailing buckets.


The second era of ocean travel covered by the Museum was the process of early immigration and one of the highlights of this section of the exhibition was a room made as a replica of the sleeping quarters of one of the ships which brought travelers to the shores of Aotearoa.


The reason this room is so wonderful is that it is made to move and shift to simulate the movement of such a ship as it sailed across the oceans to get here. As the room shifts you can hear the creaking boards which would I imagine be a haunting reminder of the fact that you are at the mercy of the waters which suspends your wooden vessel.


The second thing in this portion of the exhibition which caught my attention was the few examples of the propaganda that was produced to encourage people to immigrate to New Zealand, both of the examples which I documented tell of the history of land theft and the attempted erasure of the Indigenous Maori Inhabitants.


The rest of the museum highlights the many achievements and innovations which have come from New Zealand.


The first half of our second day was spent visiting the Auckland Art Gallery and their exhibition “The Maori Portraits,” by Gottfried Lindauer. The skill that Lindauer used in producing these beautiful paintings absolutely floored me, I really enjoyed looking at each portrait and inspected each piece from a distance and close up. Throughout portions of the exhibition the curatorial team presented many of photographs which Lindauer used for his portraits which provided an interesting insider look into this prolific artist methods and practices. I particularly enjoyed the two paintings which Lindauer did not paint, first a Goldie and secondly a painting by an unidentified artist which was signed as if it was a Lindauer.

My favorite piece was the scene which shows the application of a facial Moko using the traditional tools, its size is absolutely mind blowing.


The rest of the second day was spent touring around Auckland with my friend Grant Apiata, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the city through the eyes of my friend. Grant took us to “One tree hill,” where the wind was so strong it felt like it could lift you up and blow you off the hill.


Another one of our stops was the beautiful look out at Ladies Bay, St Heliers way with an amazing view of the Rangitoto Island and may other islands in the bay.


Grant took us to visit the Savage memorial and the charming manicured gardens.


Our third day was spent wondering the Central business district looking through the small gift shops and tourist shops looking for a few souvenirs to take home for friends and family.

Then we sat outside the Starbucks drinking our caffeinated beverages and watched the people scurrying about their busy day.


We quickly popped into karanga Ink to say hello to Pip and the crew, and ventured back to our place at Bianco off Queen to wait for the arrival of Jordan and Amy.