NUKU: a creative storytelling series about indigenous women

By Tema Hemi

Māori photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu is set to launch NUKU, a creative storytelling series about indigenous women doing things differently.   

The NUKU audio-visual series will profile 100 wāhine through a podcast and using portrait imagery. 

Matata-Sipu says the perception of what an indigenous woman is has changed.  As of the last census, Māori women make up 15% and Polynesian women 7% of the NZ workforce. 

"I wanted to create something that celebrated indigenous women but that also provided a platform that we don't often have in mainstream," says Matata-Sipu, "Not often do we hear indigenous stories at a scale like this and especially for indigenous women. 

"You often look back at things like the Goldie portraits or the Lindauer portraits or those types of images of indigenous women and you have this perception of what an indigenous woman is supposed to be, what they're supposed to have achieved to be deemed a success when, actually, we all do amazing things."

Matata-Sipu recently profiled Angela Watene, of Tainui descent, who never studied at university but is currently a director at one of the country's biggest accountancy firms. 

"Its a full on environment and it truly is the city that never sleeps so you know there can be some long days, but on the flip side its a vibrant and exciting city to live in and I've got some great friends there who have become my family away from home."

"I think its important to celebrate our diversity and to show that as indigenous women we've got a lot going on for us.  We shouldn't have barriers to achieve what we should be achieving.  So, its important to me that a lot of these stories are told and encourage our indigenous women."

The NUKU series launches on January 21 at the Māngere Arts Centre.