2001. Interior, Te Tiki-a-Tamamutu, The Spa Hotel, ...
Mark Adams


Mark Adams
2001. Interior, Te Tiki-a-Tamamutu, The Spa Hotel, Taupo, New Zealand. Nga Tohunga: Wero Taroi, Tene Waitere. Printed 2009
Production date:
Accession No:
1345 x 1075 x 60mm - each panel (framed) 1345 x 3225 x 60mm - triptych
c-type print from 10 c 8 inch C41 negatives

Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth

Mark Adams, one of New Zealand’s foremost documentary photographers, has, since the 1970s, been documenting Samoan tattau, Māori-Pākehā interactions in and around Rotorua, and historical colonial sites. His practice reflects an engagement with the complexities of New Zealand’s post-colonial Pacific history, while bearing in mind the colonial legacies of anthropology, ethnology and art history embedded in the western project of modernisation.

2001. Interior, Te Tiki-a-Tamamutu, The Spa Hotel, Taupo, New Zealand. Nga, Tohunga: Wero Taroui, Tene Waitere is a panoramic photograph of the wharenui (meeting house) carved by Tene Waitere (Ngāti Tarawhai, 1854-1931), and later redecorated within the English-style garden at the Spa Hotel in Taupo. This photograph is part of a long-term project that resulted in the recent publication Rauru Tene Waitere, Māori carving, colonial history (2009) and is devoted to the work of the most innovative and prolific Māori carver of his time. Adams started photographing Waitere’s carvings in the late 1970s after an invitation from John Perry, then director of the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, to document the work of the local carver. Adams’ continuing interest is fuelled by the diverse conditions in which these historic carvings are presented within contemporary contexts, both in their original sites, such as Rotorua or Taupō, as well as in European museums in London and Hamburg, where Waitere’s carvings are currently housed.

Since the late 1970s, Adams has been using a large-format camera with 10 x 8 inch film, to produce hand-printed, silver-based black and white photographs, and a similar analogue process to create colour prints, of extraordinary resolution and detail. His photographs are of various sizes up to mural scale and often come in the form of diptychs, triptychs and multiple panels. This photograph, composed of three separate c-type print panels, displays the complicated infrastructure and décor of the meeting house suffused with a retro 1970s palette of teal blue, orange and brown. The artificial lighting casts lingering shadows over the Waitere carvings, Goldie prints, tables and sofas, conferring a sense of strangeness to the interior.