Ana Iti

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1989
Te Rarawa, Muriwhenua, Ngāpuhi, Māori

Treasures Left by Our Ancestors

  • Purchased 2019
  • Single-channel digital video, colour, sound, duration 4 min 40 sec
  • 2019/066
  • 2016
  • View on google maps

Treasures Left by Our Ancestors by Ana Iti (Te Rarawa) was made in response to two permanent exhibitions at the Canterbury Museum, entitled 'Iwi Tawhito - Whenua Hou /Ancient People - New Land' and 'Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho o Ngā Tupuna /The Treasures Left to us by our Ancestors'. The video captures the artist crouching in front of the dioramas, positioning the contemporary body in relation to these constructed scenes, while museum visitors walk nonchalantly past the displays.

Iti explains, “It was as if Māori had never been explorers who came to Aotearoa using a sophisticated system of navigation by the stars and ocean currents. That instead, they passively sat while, according to the accompanying display text, ‘The sea supplied an abundance of fish, marine mammals, shellfish and other foods’.”

The work critiques how public information about indigenous people and culture is created and disseminated through museums. Displays such as these are often presented and perceived as factual even though museological narratives and histories are generated from specific positions, produced within Western knowledge systems, and are not necessarily the whole story. In this work, Iti answers and attempts to understand this version of history - literally getting on the level of these ancestors.

(Melanie Oliver, April 2020)