10 June – 6 August 2022

te tamaiti, te ao: Hana Pera Aoake

te tamaiti, te ao
Hana Pera Aoake
10 June - 6 August 2022

In te ao Māori, a newborn child exists between worlds Te whare wānanga (the womb) and Te ao marama (the world of light) and time (the past, the present and the future). Lots of kupu (words, phrases) in Te reo rangatira confirms this for instance to be hapū is to be pregnant, but also refers to belonging to a community to which you are related. Babies are intimately connected to tūpuna (ancestors) as they are the sum of everyone you have ever loved and everyone who has come before you.

Thinking through the poem E Tu Papatūānuku by the late Kaai Tahu writer, Keri Hulme, te tamaiti, te ao considers deep time and the way in which a new child is linked to ancestral knowledge, the whenua and pūrakau carried down generations. Filmed across geological formations across Te Wai Pounamu, it is a testament to Papatūānuku, childbirth and the persistence of even the smallest moss or lichen, beings who have survived for 350 million years, through every kind of catastrophe and every climate change that’s ever happened on this planet. How do we learn from these teachers and reinscribe the sacred for our children?


te tamaiti, te ao

floating in water
in the sacred space
bubble up and down
a root grew up from your belly button
connecting your body to mine
your heart is the size of my thumbnail
it beats at 145bpm
moving your feet
your hands cover your face

pressing down on the womb
you refuse to have your photo taken

my body is weakening but determined
uenukutuwhatu please help
crying to Hineteiwaiwa.

on the northeast horizon Matariki rises
those who have been
those who exist now
those who are yet to be

the eyes of Taawhirimaatea
the black still water of the harbour
we will meet soon
my life is your life
te tamaiti o te ao

puku swells
pangs of Ruuaumoko
between worlds

te poo
the first breath
te ao
darkness to light


Hana Pera Aoake

Hana Pera Aoake (Ngaati Mahuta, Ngaati Hinerangi me Ngaati Raukawa, Tainui/Waikato, Ngaati Waewae) is a mother, and an independent artist, writer and researcher based in Te Rotopaateke, Te Wai Pounamu. Their work explores the overlaps and tensions between Indigenous and European epistemologies, by threading bits of both together to weave new meanings and ways of sharing.

Hana holds an MFA (first class) from Massey University Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa (2018) and was a participant in the ISP programme at Maumaus des escola artes (2019). Hana co-organises Kei te pai press with Morgan Godfery and published a book of essays and sort of poems, A bathful of kawakawa and hot water with Compound press in 2020. Recently they have shown work in Matarau (with Kei te pai press) curated by Shannon Te Ao at City Gallery Te Whare Toi (2022), The Material Kinship Reader edited by Kris Dittel and Clementine Edwards (2022), Casual Paradise curated by Leila El Rayes (2022) at West Space online and Whānau Marama curated by Jade Townsend (2021) at Commercial bay.