Te Kore - Exploring the Māori concept of void
Nepia, Peter Moana
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Mohi Ruatapu, a nineteenth century Māori tohunga (scholar) from Tokomaru Bay, positioned Te Kore (which translates as nothingness, void and also potentiality) within Te Ao Mārama, the realm of contemporary human existence. He also personified Te Kore within a whakapapa (genealogy) stemming from Tāne-nui-a-Rangi, son of primordial parents Rangi-nui (Sky Father) and Papa-tu-a-nuku (Earth Mother). This creative proposition provides a kaupapa or foundation for conceptualising the origins of existence unlike other tribal accounts that position Te Kore as the nothingness from which everything else emerged. How might Te Kore be considered a kaupapa for creative practice? Ruatapu’s proposition provides a departure point for an investigative journey that follows Aratika, an appropriate pathway or methodological approach. The journey proceeds as a series of inter-related and cumulative investigations exploring how Te Kore may be perceived in different contexts. Within social histories of loss and devastation, for instance, Te Kore may articulate extreme states of emotion, and also the need for space or time to restore balance. Te Kore as an architectural or spatial void holds potential for social interaction, human activity and layering histories together. The thesis proposes ways in which such perceptions might inform and generate decision making in performance, video and installation contexts where the absence or presence of light, sound, movement, narration and figurative elements give shape, form and substance to ideas. Understanding from these explorations is gathered and re-positioned to establish grounds for further interpretations through video, dance, creative writing, performance and installation. Te Kore as a kaupapa is thus both a subject and foundation for this investigation. The exegesis describes the overall approach, discusses the findings, and contextualises the inquiry. The electronic version of the exegesis is in three separate pdf files corresponding to three separate volumes: Volume 1 is a poetic entrance to the thesis. Volume 2 includes formal front matter, the introduction and review of knowledge. Volume 3 discusses Aratika, the practice-led methodology and its application in practice in relation to seven creative projects. A DVD attached to Volume three includes documentation of selected performance and video work completed as part of this thesis.