It is the most racist, derogatory, dishonest, divisive and ignorant thing I’ve ever seen in a gallery. –Waikanae resident in an e-mail to us
By Roger Childs
Robyn Kahukiwa is an Australian born, part-Maori artist who was incensed about government funding for the 250th celebrations of the 1769 arrival of Captain Cook in New Zealand waters. Her exhibition “Let’s NOT celebrate Cook” is a visual expression of her views on the matter and is featuring at the Mahara Gallery until 12 April.
Artistic licence is to be expected of painters and cartoonists, but they should not falsify history and make up stories to suit their art. Unfortunately, Kahukiwa gets the history and consequences of Captain Cook’s visits to New Zealand deliberately wrong to suit her prejudiced views.
THEN COOK SHOT 9 MAORI
THEY FELL DEAD IN THE SAND
JUST ‘COS THE CROWN DID WANT
SOME NEW LANDS.
This is part of a longer poem in a painting and is utterly dishonest on a number of counts:
- Cook personally shot nobody.
- Only one native died on the sand at Poverty Bay.
- All the deaths there resulted after attempts by the natives to steal things or because of their aggressive behaviour which led to fighting with sailors.
- Britain didn’t want new colonies – there was no attempt to invade or take over New Zealand during the following 60 years.
Another painting states that there should be no celebration because Cook was a “British Invader, Thief, Murderer, Kidnapper, Rapist.” There is no evidence that he was any of these things and in fact, as he was instructed to do, he was at pains to try and establish good relations with the native peoples of the Pacific. There were some misunderstandings over property and ownership leading to violence, but using weapons against natives was only ever in self-defence.
Robyn Kahukiwa is, or should be, entitled to her views, but one wonders about the Mahara Gallery featuring her artwork about Captain Cook. Furthermore, having Mayor Guru actually open this and another exhibition gives it a measure of official council endorsement. But does the Mayor actually accept Kahukiwa’s twisted view of history?
If you haven’t done so, go see it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Comments are welcome.