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Taku Tāmaki – Auckland Stories South at MIT Manukau

Auckland Stories from the South

Auckland Stories from the South

Here are three amazing stories from the people and places of South Auckland. Visit the
Taku Tāmaki – Auckland Stories South exhibition for more.

Kōtuku ngutupapa (Royal spoonbill) from Only Birds by Charles and Janine Williams, 2016.

Photograph of the original spray-painted work.

Only Birds

Internationally acclaimed, and proud South Aucklanders, the urban contemporary artist couple Charles and Janine Williams have created a body of work celebrating ngā manu (the birdlife) and kōrero tuku iho (story) of the naming of Manukau. 

About 1350CE the Tainui waka moved up the Tāmaki River on the east coast, entering the Manukau harbour via the Ōtāhuhu portage. They heard the tangi (cries) of a multitude of manu o tai (sea birds). At first they mistook these for the cries of human beings, but later discovered them to be 'only birds' — 'he manu kau noa iho'. Hence the name 'Manu-kau' was given.

'He manu kau noa iho'

Kua oti i a Charles rāua ko Janine Williams ētahi mahi toi e whakatairanga ana i ngā tini manu me te kōrero tuku iho mō Manukau. 

I te wā i a rātou mā, ka tere te waka o Tainui i te awa o Tāmaki, ka tōia te waka ki uta whakawhiti atu i Ōtāhuhu ki Manukau. Ka paroro te rangi i te tangi a ngā manu o tai. I pōhēhē rātou koia ngā tangi me ngā auē a ngā tini tāngata, nāwai rā ka kitea, 'he manu kau noa iho'. Koia rā, ko te Manukau e mōhio whānuitia ana i tēnei rā. 

Awesome expression

"Hair is a perfect renewable resource for self-expression," says Polyfest Hair Project curator Ema Tavola. "I love it! It reflects so much about the influences that shape the lives of our young people, from global pop culture to local cultural rituals."

Selected photographs from the Polyfest Hair Project by Ema Tavola and Vinesh Kumaran, 2012. Left to right: Primrose, Paul, Brian.

In 2012, Ema and photographer Vinesh Kumaran set up at ASB Polyfest, the largest Polynesian festival in the world. Their images are a unique way to show the style and conviction of South Auckland young people. ASB Polyfest 2016, in Manukau, celebrates 41 years since the festival started in Ōtara with the purpose of exhibiting Auckland secondary students' pride in their cultural heritage and identity through music, dance, and language. 

Choreographer to the stars

Parris Goebel and her ReQuest Dance Crew with their Varsity gold medals at the 2009 World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas.

Image from Brett Goebel.

She's only 24, but Parris Goebel has worked with some of the biggest names in music, such as Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Parris grew up in Manurewa and always loved to dance. She followed that passion, and with her group ReQuest won the 2009 World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas. "It was pretty male-dominated," says Parris. "But we had strong self-belief from all our families and friends supporting us."

Parris is an internationally renowned choreographer and dancer, recognised for her Polyswagg style, incorporating Polynesian dance influences. Her choreography has won multiple medals for dance crews from The Palace Dance Studio. She may have won awards at the World of Dance Industry Awards but she's still firmly rooted in South Auckland.