Urban Warriors

Acrylic on canvas, 91.5 x 61cm.

In the past, people often fought physically for what they wanted, but in the contemporary environment one must negotiate their position, and the suit and tie is the uniform for that battle.

There are only two realms in Maoridom: the spiritual realm and the physical realm. In this painting, the lines on one side of the face represent the lines of the Ancestors of each man and where they come from. They go into 'battle' with the knowledge of their Ancestors in combination with their knowledge of the modern world.

Whenever I'm negotiating in Wellington city, for example - I have a strong historical understanding of my tribe's significance in that area. The Wellington harbour is named after my ancestor 'Tara', who was the grandson of Rongoueroa, who was our tribal Matriarch. So when I go in there to negotiate, I can walk in with the 'Mana' of my ancestors and the land behind me. It reinforces a sense that I'm negotiating with the backing of the land.