Ngāi Tūhoe have always been staunchly independent. When the country was colonised in the nineteenth century, the indigenous iwi (tribe) remained apart, having little contact with European settlers. Despite the New Zealand government’s often-violent attempts to assimilate them and dispossess them of their land, Tūhoe retained their strong Māori identity, language, and some of their traditional lands, nestled in the steep, remote ranges of Aotearoa New Zealand’s North Island.
Like many Tūhoe, John Teepa spent a few decades living in the city, away from his ancestral land. When he, his wife Carol Teepa, and his six tamariki (children) returned to his birthplace, a dairy farm in Ruatoki, they followed the customary adoption process of whāngai, eventually raising more than 20 adopted children alongside their own.
Over a century old, Teepa’s homestead has now sheltered more than six generations – and hundreds of tamariki. “This is home,” John tells his numerous descendants.
His dairy farm is now part of the Tataiwhetu Trust farm, one of the most successful dairy farms in the country and fully organic. It is guided by the principle “Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tāngata. When the land is in good health, so too are the people”.
Tatsiana Chypsanava is a documentary photographer based in Aotearoa New Zealand. Born in Belarus and a descendant of the Komi peoples of the Siberian North West Ural, she is a member of Diversify Photo and Women Photograph, both groups that champion diversity in the industry. Her work focuses on Indigenous rights, migration, and environmental issues. Chypsanava is a grantee of the Wellcome Trust (2020) and an alumna of the Eddie Adams Workshop (2021) and the Missouri Photo Workshop (2022). Her ongoing personal project, Ruatoki, began in 2014, born from a decade-long relationship with the Teepa family. Chypsanava has also lived among and documented the lives of the Tupinambá people of the Brazilian Northeast.
Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race.
In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions.
By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation.
Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.
For more information about Photoville visit, www.photoville.com
Featuring: Tatsiana Chypsanava
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