Live Auction Lot 5: Dr Leonie Ngahuia Mansbridge – “Kareao Series” Supplejack
“Kareao Series” Supplejack
Kareao/Supplejack is a common vine native to New Zealand, it climbs trees and creates a tangled mess with its knotted entanglement. Its tough stems were used for roofing, flooring, ladders, craypot, and eel traps. Also used medicinally supplejack roots were boiled and made into a drink for rheumatism, fever and skin disease, the broken stems were applied to cuts and grazes. The soft roots can be eaten raw or cooked, the red berries can also be eaten.
Supplejack played a decisive role in the New Zealand wars in the 19th century, for Māori it was an advantage, the colonial forces had to fight a double war against Māori and supplejack. Heavily clad infantry were held up by the vines catching their packs and bayonets, and strategic manoeuvres were delayed by this slow progress. This often known “Mongrel of the bush” was a strategic resource for Māori, whereas it was seen as a menace to the West.
This juxtaposing of colour and things entangle the work so we see what others do not.
We all have a different perspective concerning the land, it can evokes belonging, memories and awe, but as a Māori woman I see myself as a caretaker of the land as she is my cultural identity, the land was taken from us much like our culture.
The artificial simulation of landscape reframes the Aotearoa/New Zealand landscape, a place/space that I connect to through my whakapapa (genealogy). It is a place that is redolent with the spiritual so much more than a landscape that the tourists see.