This work is part of a petition to the government to push for change for the people seeking asylum stuck on Manus and Nauru. Here is the full letter and references written before the petition was drafted.
Dear Jacinda Ardern,
Do we want to live in a society that accepts inhumane policies? Current treatment of people seeking asylum and refuge in the Pacific needs changing, sign to let our government know we want a better vision for the future. Let's aim to create equality for all including the most vulnerable. Change the situation for people seeking asylum and refuge and help rebuild lives.
There are people who have endured countless sufferings as refugees and are stuck in limbo with little hope for their future and with few rights in the country they now dwell. They are living in an open air prison in a country that offers them little hope of a future. In the past few weeks since the Australian elections 12 (as of May 22nd) asylum seekers have made desperate attempts to end their lives. To date 5 June 26 people have attempted to end their lives and /or self harm.
The Independent, Chris Baynes, 24 May 2019. The Guardian, Helen Davidson, 22 may 2019.
RNZ Dateline Pacific, Keeping suicidal refuge in Manus Island police cell ‘barbaric’, 03 May 2019.
www.10daily.com.au, Manus refugee sets himself on fire as self harm crisis escalates, 10 June 2019.
This is an extreme case of people who have suffered so unjustly at the hands of those who should have been their protectors. These people need urgent help from New Zealand. Peter Dutton's claims that asylum seekers would use New Zealand as a backdoor into Australia are not justified. There is no morality in saving people from drowning at sea to then treat them like this. It must stop, it is our obligation as humans with conscience, dignity and power to make this happen.
The Spinoff, by Johnny Blades, Hopes dim for manus and Nauru refugees after Scott Morrison’s re-election, 20 May 2019.
We see it as our responsibility as fellow humans to start acting for a better future creating hope.
It is our responsibility as fellow humans to stop accepting the cruel immigration policies of the Australian government and start acting for what is moral, humane and just. We need to get the refugees off Manus and Nauru, not just 150 of them per year if and when Australia gives permission. These people can't wait. New Zealand must stand up be assertive and help these desperate refugees.
Newsroom and Stuff, Australia refugee policy ‘world’s cruellest’ - global health expert, by Laura Waters, 17 may 2019
Helen Clark made special circumstances for 433 asylum seekers from the Tampa in 2001. Without a delay of years in detention those people were bought here, and successfully started new lives. They were not made political examples to torture endlessly.
The Spinoff, As a Tampa refugee, I have seen first-hand the impact when NZ takes moral leadership, by Abbas Nazari, 11 November 2017
This event sparked the beginnings of what the then Howard Government called the ‘Pacific solution’. The beginnings of what has grown to become a Pacific shame. New Zealand is not a backdoor into Australia. New Zealanders, Australians and people of the wider Pacific feel shame in what the Australian government has been playing out in our region. Especially so for the people of Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Systematic abuse and torture and a blockade for desperate people seeking asylum in Australia.
The people seeking refuge who have become vulnerable targets of the Australian government have suffered for so long and been through so much with Australia's inhumane political stance against people arriving by boat. They are innocent people who deserve respect and recognition of their basic human rights. The Australian government has been condemned by the UNHCR, and urged repeatedly to bring the asylum seekers to Australia due to the compromised health state of the detainees.The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has sighted the center at Manus as an “indictment of a policy meant to avoid Australia’s International obligations”.
www.unchr.org Article in Summary of Catherine Stubberfield, 12 October 2018
Helen Davidson, “Manus humanitarian crisis a ‘damning indictment’ of Australia’s refugee policy, The Guardian, 21 November 2017.
On April 26 2016 the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea found the prison breached the PNG’s constitutional rights to personal liberty and was deemed illegal. The prison formally closed Manus Island Center on 31 October 2017 but detainees fearful of their safety refused to leave.
Article By Eric Tlozek and Stephane Anderson, Australia’s ABC News, 26 April 2016.
This treatment has been going on far too long - SIX arduous, unbearable years for innocent people, 12 and counting - who have lost their lives so far. Many have been forced to return to their homelands risking their lives and suffering persecution. The level of trauma and suffering is so great. We count the number attempting suicide, dying, self harming, sewing their lips shut in hunger strike, setting themselves on fire, being raped and abused, being refused medical care, living life without hope of building a future. In October last year MSF was banned from working on Nauru despite a desperate need.
Siobhan O’Grady, The washington Post, “ ‘People just lost hope’ After Australia’s election, asylum seekers attempted suicide”, 22 May 2019
“After five years of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, the situation is desperate. The Australian government must stop this brutal policy and immediately evacuate all refugees and asylum seekers from Nauru as well as Manus Island. There is no time to waste.” Dr Stewart Condon, MSF Australia.
Article, MSF, Nauru, ‘Medical report shows disastrous impact of Australia’s offshore processing policy’, 2 December 2018.
New Zealand has made repeated offers to the Australian government for resettlement and been turned down.
As caring people we must act to find solutions, at present we sit beside Australia and accept with complacency the ill treatment of fellow human beings. We want to live in a world free from the barriers that create suffering, hate and injustice. The people seeking asylum and refuge need our protection and they need us to stand up for their human rights.
As New Zealanders we are geographically far removed from the mass migration of many refugees throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We grant very few refugees resettlement in our country while many other countries push themselves to the limit in order to do their best to support masses in this global plight. We have increased our quota since the Syrian Crisis.
Please Jacinda Ardern and the New Zealand Government reach out to those so desperately in need of our help in our big backyard of the Pacific. The suffering of these people must end and politics should not stand in the way of it. Help remove the barriers to doing the right thing as fellow human beings.
The Australian Government should be made accountable for crimes against humanity with its treatment of these displaced, stateless and vulnerable people.
It's time to act.
We appeal to you Jacinda Ardern to stand up and do the right thing for these people. New Zealanders do not accept this policy of ‘Detention’. We push for change. You have shown in your leadership to be guided by what's right, what's fair and just. You are an honest, principled and compassionate leader and we are lucky to have you representing our country. Kia Kaha.
With sincere kindness and hope, the undersigned.
For references, links and further information please see below:
Peaceful protest - working drawing. Charcoal pencil, 2019.
The landscape of hopelessness - working drawing. Conte on black builders paper, 2019.
The writing on the wall. Charcoal pencil, 2019.
The Landscape of Hopelessness - Drawing for Manus and Nauru. Charcoal pencil, 2019.
Exhibition at Pick NZ artbroker, 241 Moorhouse Ave, Christchurch, 10-28th July 2018. For more information visit picknzartbroker.com.
Artifact ~ object ~ jewel ~ rose ~ hair ~ adornment ~ protection ~ harakeke ~ cloak ~ blanket ~ bone ~ metal ~ paper ~ possession ~ place ~ antique ~ colonial ~ relic
The hair comb for me has become a symbol of protection and celebration for one of Aotearoa’s pioneering women. The life of Elizabeth Guard.
Her hair comb - held in a collection in Te Papa - saved her life when she was shipwrecked of the shore of Taranaki in the 1830s. The comb deflected blows of a tomahawk. The teeth of which remained embedded in her head.
I became fascinated in her life through reading historical books of my mothers and needed to express this story in order to draw attention to her life, to make her story more widely known. Her hair for me has been this beautiful mass of femininity and protection. I have intended to interpret her image ambiguously drawing reference to the silhouette portrait, the original comb and of descriptions of her physicality, her place, time and ancestry.
Creation of the hair comb for Betty Guard revives a colonial relic. This piece shaped from copper is an object of adornment and protection worn to embellish the hair of Betty. It was perhaps a way to bring control into a life of uncertainty and chaos, the ritual of doing up ones hair. Betty Guard sat in her shipwreck camp on the Taranaki coastline and did her hair the morning a battle was to take place. The comb in her hair shielded her from death that day. Motifs from her English heritage marry with the flora and fauna of New Zealand intertwining culture.
Rose ~ thorn ~ kowhai ~ fern
Tui ~ tomahawk ~gunfire
Objects of adornment of the 1830s hair pins were worn to give height to the hair and decorate the elaborate plaiting and folding of the style. These jewels for Betty are fashioned from materials then easily sourced, but now antiquated. Whalebone with its many uses in the 1800s, here I craft semi precious ornaments for her with materials that could be found at her settler’s cottage and create a connection to the fashions of Europe and Betty’s past. The Jewelry such as earrings, a trivial decadence perhaps. The making of these is to adorn Betty with indulgence. Her adornment carrying a heavy burden.
Possession ~ place ~ antiquated
The Kapeu was worn by Maori of status. The Kapeu form was also worn by women, the ponamu neck pendant was used as a soother for teething babies and as a support while breastfeeding. This whalebone Kapeu I have invented as a gift to Betty Guard by the Chief Oaoiti of Ngati Ruanui during her time living as his wife in the Te Namu Pa 1834. An artificial artifact, a symbol of their union and parting.
Harekeke ~ cloak ~ blanket ~ protector
These portraits are made in bringing recognition to the first European woman to live in the South Island. The curiosity I have about the life of Betty Guard fueled me to make these portraits in effort to share her story. How did she look? What kind of person was she? How was her life as a woman, wife and mother? I have used her hair and the jewelry to embellish, adorn and celebrate her. I see Betty’s hair as an embodiment of composure, status, position and condition. Clothing~corset~dress. Her home made of thatch supple-jack and clay. A pride in appearance and efforts of the day, 1830’s fashions, dresses sewn or bought in Sydney. A blanket, a cloak - a saving grace. It is said that a Maori woman threw a blanket over Betty so she would not see her death. It helped save her. She was finely dressed in a cloak wearing her hair out when she left the tribe in Taranaki. She was a mother of nine children. Her descendants still live where she settled in Kakapo Bay, Marlborough Sounds.
Cloak ~ place ~ belonging
A plate crafted as a one off object, rare, singular, unique. The South Island Kokako whom Betty would have witnessed and the Tui who may have been her daily songbird. An ornate emblem of unity between past and present. Dark and the light. Courage and the vulnerability. The chorus of Bettys heart song.
Rare ~ songbird ~ unity
Onawe 1832 Scroll and Fans
Installation for Sculpture on the Peninsula 2017
This recent work is informed by the landscape of Banks Peninsula and Onawe. My work explores narratives of the past. It is my intention to revive stories of old and to acknowledge the significance of this history. Onawe is a place extremely sacred - Tapu to Maori.
An Atua ‘Te Pa Nui O Hau’ The Goddess of the Wind once dwelt on Onawe’s summit. Onawe was a sacred home to her and she spoke to the spirit world and to those who heard the supernatural. Musket fire silenced Te Pa Nui O Hau as she was unaccustomed to such loud noise and intrusion.
As a symbol of the past I have chosen to work with the fan. Popular during the colonial era the fan was often used by women as a fashion accessory. Whale bone was a common material used in shaping clothing and decoratively. Sailors would use whale bone or tooth to draw into creating scrimshaw as keepsakes. Japanese aesthetic also influences my art. I have studied the masterpiece ‘The Long Landscape Scroll’ by Sesshu 1486. Compositional principles exercised in the layout of the scroll and of the traditional fan influence my work. I see the fan as a metaphor for wind, drawing a link to the Maori goddess of wind and as a symbol of Colonialism. These works pay homage to the spirit of Te Pa Nui o Hau and her scared peninsula home Onawe.
My work Onawe Landscape Scroll depicts events where in 1832 a fleet of waka approach the Pa at Onawe. The invasion of Te Rauparaha and his warriors at Onawe with the introduction of musket fire silenced the Goddess of the Wind and decimated Ngai Tahu of Banks Peninsula. In 1830 Captain Stewart had sailed into Akaroa harbour concealing a war party for Te Rauparaha on board the Elizabeth, this cunning lead to the destruction of Takapuneke. Onawe was built as a refuge after this attack.
This piece is made in respect and commemoration.
Te pa Nui O Hau, Goddess of the Wind
Zinc etching printed on Pescia white paper, 530 x 390mm. Edition of 8.
Onawe Long Scroll - detail
Wind swept pohutukawa
Home of Te Pa Nui O Te Hau
Home of the Atua of the wind
Onawe - Home of the Goddess of the wind.
Zinc etching on Pescia white paper, 530 x 390mm.
Recent works showcase the Banks Peninsula with this series of paintings and drawings depicting Onawe Peninsula. The studio looks south out towards Onawe so it has become a focus and a subject. Each painting looks at the peninsula from a new aspect on a new day.
Onawe is a small Peninusla jutting out into Akaroa Harbour. Its natural beauty and prominence within the Harbour make it significant for many but more importantly it is a place deeply sacred to Maori.
These paintings are part of an ongoing body of work and are available for sale through www.nzartbroker.com
Onawe 1, 25 x 20 cm, oil on canvas 2017
Onawe 2, 25 x 20 cm, oil on canvas 2017.
Onawe 3, 25 x 20 cm, oil on canvas 2017
Onawe 4, 20 x 25 cm, oil on canvas, 2017
This drawing series was inspired by the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Here in New Zealand we are so far removed from this massive humanitarian crisis. I made these drawings to draw attention to this issue and to initiate and encourage people to think about what our society does for refugees. Why don’t we do more? Daily newspaper and social media images have been used to make drawings. I intended to create art from these images to try and extend their reach and strengthen their impact, to change the context in which these pictures are viewed. Making these portraits in theory have a longer lifespan that a quick flick through a newspaper or newsfeed.
Silent Protest, Charcoal pencil on Fabriano paper, 94 x 67 cm, 2016
Where shall we go, Charcoal on Fabriano paper, 60 x 120 cm, 2016
We cannot protect our children, Charcoal on Fabriano Paper, 87 x 60 cm, 2016.
After the bombing - Damascus, Charcoal and conte on brown paper, 60 x 90 cm, 2017
The fence, Charcoal and conte on brown paper, 60 x 90 cm, 2016
A father's grief, charcoal on fabriano Paper, 60 x 120 cm, 2016
These large scale charcoal drawings of Banks Peninsula are works made on commission during 2016-18 and some working drawings.
Menzies Bay. Private Collection.
Detail - Rhodes view from Ngaio Point
Rhodes view from Ngaio Point. Private Collection.
Onawe, Akaroa Harbour drawing. Available through nzartbroker.com