On that day the tragedy in Christchurch froze everything, everyone’s hearts and thoughts—it changed the dynamics of all the people in our country.
Half a year has passed already.
Friday 15th March was a beautiful summer's day here on Waiheke Island, in the middle of Waiheke’s biennial art event, Sculpture On The Gulf 2019. I took part with a sculpture I had just completed, called kæ mua kæ muri (from a proverb—using phonetic signs referring to Māori oral tradition. It translates: ‘looking backwards in order to move forward'). Two rings made of NZ cypress, almost twice one’s height, were leaning on one another to stand up on the hill.
On that day the tragedy in Christchurch froze everything, everyone’s hearts and thoughts—it changed the dynamics of all the people in our country. In one act many lives were lost. We couldn’t rewind them back to life or give an explanation for these people disappearing. I couldn’t feel anything negative or bad, not even anger—just heavy pain, entirely. It was just too much for my understanding at that time, when we were all suddenly forced to confront such an act of anger.
There was no point wiping away tears of sadness. I looked at the sculpture that stood in front of me, thinking of people who lost families and friends, imagining they were also looking at this view, and wondered how many hurdles I’d come across if I could send the work to them. To weigh one’s life, even if it were possible, would probably make such burdens less burdensome. I decided regardless of obstacles that I wanted to send ka mua ka muri for the people of Christchurch.
From that day I talked about my idea with visitors on the art trail without knowing if there was any point, but that’s all I could do. Day by day, however, so many people said that it would be a good thing to do, and a number of people told me that they would like to be involved. It was my tipping point, that such a gift wouldn't be just from my thoughts but could be from many of us, from this community. If I could find a way.
I wanted to believe that an artwork can do—or just be—something else. That it can speak in a way politics and commerce cannot; that it can speak a universal language and simply talk to all faiths, with no goal other than an act of being.
(It might be no such thing but that is what keeps me working...)
Kazu Nakagawa, August 2019