City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Bruce Connew: Muttonbirds: Part of a Story

4 November–4 December 2005

In 2001, Wellington photographer Bruce Connew meets Kāti Māmoe beneficial owner Dean Tiemi Te Au, a muttonbirder struggling to assert his ancestral rights to the remote muttonbird island Taukihepa, off the southwest coast of Stewart Island. They become friends. Te Au facilitates Connew’s access to the muttonbirding sites and shares his knowledge of the practice. In a sequence of thirty photographs, Connew documents the yearly migration of the muttonbirds to their nesting sites and the muttonbirders who follow them there. He captures the harshness of the environment as well as the persistence of the muttonbirders in gritty, often haunting images. His photoessay is not only a meditation on food-gathering customs and the natural world, it’s a political work, touching upon ancestral rights and competing claims.