The Stain Of Blood That Writes An Island Story 2010

The title comes from the last line of a poem "Landfall in Unknown Seas" written by Allen Curnow in 1943 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the discovery of New Zealand by Abel Tasman 13 December 1942.

My mother was born in 1913. Her grandfather was James Oliver, who came to New Zealand in 1841 aboard the second ship, Amelia Thompson, arriving off the coast of New Plymouth. His wife Ruth was aboard along with 4 sone (another aged 6 had died at sea), 2 daughters and his single brother Samuel. Having left the family flour mill on the Cornwall/Devon border Samuel soon established the first flour mill, the Alpha, in a partnership, in 1843. In 1858 James started farming at Mangorei Road on what was disputed land. Their house was one of 187 to be burnt. Their stock along with neighbour's stock was slaughtered. Land wars broke out some months after they had moved onto the land. Three of the sons joined up with the Taranaki forces while their brother, my great grandfather, joined up with Wanganui forces where he had shifted to before marrying in 1862.

Two years ago my daughter married her partner to whom she already had 3 children. Her husband is of Parihaka heritage, one of the first pacifist villages in the world. An ancestor of his was fathered by a son of Colonel Robert Wynyard who was govenor of New Zealand after Sir George Grey. Some of the members of their Opunake tribe went to Auckland, kidnapped mother and daughter and hid them on the slopes of Mt Taranaki until the searching troops had finally given up and returned home.

I refer to these grandchildren of mine as being cross-pollinated as they have a foot in both camps. My art is being done for them and future generations of New Zealanders to come. I refer to and illustrate the frustrations and anger from both sides without making a judgemental call. Please note the final piece which shows the chevrons moving forwards and upwards in a positive manner along with the fullness of the piece which I hope shows the positive future which lies ahead for the coming generations. I hope that the will reflect on the past and build a better future.

18 Apr 2010