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A Life Honoured Through The Lens

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Video artist Leilani Kake remembers her father at City Gallery Wellington

In 2004 artist Leilani Kake found herself standing on the roof of a bus filming protesters participating in the landmark foreshore and seabed hikoi. As multitudes of people marched by she spotted her father Richard Kake carrying her younger brother upon his shoulders. Seeing her family from behind the camera lens, Kake realised that she was not just an observer of this event - she was a part of the story.

She began documenting the socio-political activities of her father Richard Kake, a staunch advocate for his Northland iwi (Ngāpuhi), to create a historical record of the trials and tribulations of a modern day Rangatira (Māori leader).

A part of that story will be told at City Gallery Wellington from 3 April to 13 June, in Leilani Kake's video tryptich Tino Rangatira Tanga. Filmed in first-person perspective, this gritty documentary-style video installation portrays the Māori process of Tā Moko and Tangihanga. The work explores how waiata, in its many forms, is used in the daily lives of Māori families.

The installation begins with Richard Kake receiving his Tā Moko (Māori facial tattoo) from renowned Tā Moko artist Gordon Toi Hadfield and ends at their Northland family Marae where Kake is laid to rest after his untimely death. The whole installation is set amidst a rich acoustic soundtrack of waiata and pop reggae demonstrating the dynamic role of song and music in Māori communities. Filmed entirely by hand-held camera, Tino Rangatira Tanga invites the viewer to witness these raw, emotional and momentous events.

Curator Reuben Friend says "Ultimately Tino Rangatira Tanga is a celebration of a daughter's relationship with her father. It is an intimate story told through the musical soundtrack that surrounded Mr Kake in life as well as in death". In terms of the social importance of the work he says, "Tino Rangatira Tanga becomes an engaging social documentation of contemporary processes of celebrating and mourning significant events in Māori communities".

Leilani Kake (Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Cook Island Māori, Caucasian American) was born in Rotorua in 1977. As a child she lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and eventually settled in Otara, Auckland. Her mother Julienne Greig is of Rakahanga, Cook Island Māori and Caucasian American descent. Her father Richard Kake is of Tainui and Ngāpuhi descent.

Kake gained a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology School of Visual Arts in 2002 and returned in 2005 to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts. Ms Kake regularly exhibits nationally and abroad, most recently Tino Rangatira Tanga, Fresh Gallery Otara, Auckland (2008) and Le Folauga-the past coming forward: Contemporary Pacific Art from Aotearoa New Zealand, Taiwan (2007). In 2005 was awarded the Salamander Gallery/Creative New Zealand Emerging Pacific Visual Artist Award. Kake works as a lecturer at the Manukau Institute of Technology School of Visual Arts, Auckland.

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