CURATOR Reuben Friend ARTISTS Sarah Hudson, Aimee Ratana, Suzanne Tamaki, Vicky Thomas
During the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Polynesian women were frequently represented as sexually provocative curios—objects of desire. This view is still perpetuated through the media. Maiden Aotearoa looks at four responses to the ‘dusky maiden’ stereotype. Photographer Sarah Hudson shrouds the faces of her unknown Māori maidens, speaking to enforced invisibility. Aimee Ratana looks at the customary use of photography within the whare-tūpuna (ancestral house), affording her ancestral images the same prestige as carved ones. Vicky Thomas's self-portraits, titled Miss Appropriate, present her as a twenty-first-century Māori maiden in black stilettos and swirling piupiu (flax skirt)—contemporary image of wāhine-toa (strong women). Suzanne Tamaki uses fashion to prompt political discussions. In her Treaty of Why Tangi photos, staunch Māori women wear Tamaki garments crafted from New Zealand flags.