Tessa

“I make these books every year full of photos of my family from my phone. I’ve made six so far. Photo albums have always been my most favourite things to look through when I visit family. When my grandparents moved out of their house to go into a retirement village, they burnt a whole lot of photos to save space. The family was a bit horrified with them, because you can’t ever get these back, I giggled because I knew they were just trying to cut down what they had to move.

My uncle passed away from cancer, and I’ve got this one photo where he’s holding my daughter, taken not long before he passed away. She never got to the age where she spoke to him but she still looks at him and says: ‘That’s Uncle Peter, aye Mum!’ She’s very tau (calm) with the fact that he passed even though she never really knew him. I love that I spent my whole life with him, and she was able to meet him through the photos. She loves going through and naming all the people in her book, from the year she was born. It’s nice for us older ones to look back on those times as well, to reminisce and remind ourselves that we’re not forgetting those people.

This hue (a gourd plant) was made by Claude Nepia from Nuhaka and was gifted to my mum and dad at their wedding. It is so sentimental knowing that it has been a part of my family since right at the beginning. There’s also a link to the Māori art I’m doing now; I’m able to connect back to my people that were making before I was born.

I think if I’d seen it before doing a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts, I would’ve thought that maybe the patterns are a bit rough. But now that I’m physically making, I just appreciate it a whole lot more. I appreciate that it was made out of a hue that was grown in a māra (garden) probably in Nuhaka, so that always ties me back to home.” – Tessa, Upper Hutt Valley. Find her: @toibytessa (Interview: Chloe Mason)