ā n a k a …  learning in the dark

  an exhibition of paintings & sound 

 MOANA TIPA painter / researcher

 MARA TK song writer/composer 



Waanaka - Learning in the Dark (2016} is three bodies of work:  Whakatātūtū – (Measure the Depth)  2015 a Learning Connexion Adv. Dip graduation exhibition with Dr. Peter Adsett),  Waanaka - (Learning in the Dark)  - 2016,   and  the acapella sound track Aku Moutere  (Mara TK).  The works navigate  aspects of landlessness,  loss of land and the political persuasion of John Locke, now 349 years old, that continues to influence land law in Aotearoa NZ.

Wanaka - Learning in the Dark deals with death in the spirit of the land and hastily erected for sale signage on pristine shore front land in the Southern High Country begging the question ‘Whose laws are operating here?  

I visited Wanaka in winter 2016 to walk ancestral lands with a view to read and understand the link between the wairua of the land that tipuna (mothers and fathers of history once lived within. Escorted by local historian Mr.Ritchie Hewitt of Wanaka to waahi tapu - sacred sites,  the outcome - whatever that was, would inform work to complete the Whakatātūtū series. 

Mr.Hewitt's  research of Maori life and history in that area, triggered a further deluge including the work of Fulbright Scholar, Dr Ann Brower and her publication in 2008 Who Owns the High Country?  Her work reveals the continuing influence and ideologies of John Locke, the 17th century writer, political theorist and philosopher, 349 years after it was written.

Dr Brower states “… according to Locke, improving and working the land creates a moral right to ownership…” (for lease-holders). She also asserts… “bureaucratic pathologies and not the law had governed land reform. The bureaucrats, not ministers, and not judges, were directing the biggest land carve-up in New Zealand’s short history”.

By 2006, twenty-two land tenure review processes had been ‘settled’,  meaning  by that time, 58% of Crown land holdings in the Southern High Country had been transferred into private ownership,  subsidised by taxpayers at a cost of $18.5 million.

What are those figures in 2017? 


Whose 17th Century ideas / Treatise continue to influence legislation in these lands   (Nā wai ngā whakaaro, me ngātuhinga ō nehe rā i whakaawe ai ngā hanganga ture ki ēnei whenua?)

Whose words sown like seed still bloom and enslave? (Nā wai ngā kupu whakapononga - i ruia ano nei he kakano - e puawai ai?)

Appeal to Heaven, release the curse that enslaves;  the Wind that renews already stirs! (Me inoi ki te Rangi, kia wetekina nga kupu whakapononga,  e tawiri ana Te Hau whakamohou)


                a k u   m o u t e r e     -   m y   i s l a n d s


             mara tk / vincent olsen-reeder / mark vanilau 


Kei hea aku moutere?                            Where are my islands

i  tauwhiro ra i ahau                              that nurtured me?

Taku waka te whiua                              My canoe has been cast

ki te koro Parata e                                 into the throat of the Parata

E te Kaihautu                                        O great Captain

Whatungaro te whenua i a  taua            The land is lost to us


Kia mahara ki te wa o te ora                   Remembering the times I was alive

Titaha ki tai                                          Now, swaying at sea

Pae ki uta                                             whilst the land is stable


Ua ia tagata ese                                     There’s a stranger

I o’u laufanua                                        in my home

Ua tulia i matou i a’au                           I’ve been outcast into the ocean

Ma ua fai o’u matafaga                           Sharks inherit these shores


E kore te uku, e piri ki te  rino              Clay doesn’t stick to iron

Engari  te uku e mau ki te kiri               But it does stick to skin


Kia mahara ki te wa o te ora                   Remembering the times I was alive

Titaha ki tai                                          Now, swaying at sea

Pae ki uta                                             whilst the land is stable



  1. Roll back the stone

    Charcoal wash / untreated canvas

  2. Untitled 

    Charcoal & acrylic wash /untreated canvas

  3. Untitled

    Charcoal wash / oil stick / untreated canvas

  4. Untitled

    Charcoal wash / oil stick / untreated canvas

  5. Untitled

    Charcoal wash / oil stick / untreated canvas

  6. Untitled

    Charcoal wash / oil stick / untreated canvas

  7. Whose words?

    Oil stick / graphite / acrylic wash

  8. Sown like seed

    Oil stick / graphite / acrylic wash

  9. Appeal to heaven

Oil stick / graphite / acrylic wash



Fullbright Scholar, Dr. Ann Brower – Who Owns the High Country (Craig Potton Publishers 2006)

 Ann Brower   Whither the Crown’s interest in South Island high country land reform


J. McFarlane:  Lincoln PhD thesis 2011: Cutting up the high country: the social construction of tenure review and ecological sustainability – chapter on Ngai Tahu perspective https://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10182/4134/McFarlane_PhD.pdf?sequence=3 

Yale Law School – Lillian Goldman Law Library

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (March 1, 1669) (the Colonist Blueprint)


J.D. Lewis:  Carolinas Lords Proprietors 1668:  Anthony Ashley Cooper – Lord Shaftesbury - the Fundamental Constitutions (Colonist Blueprint) John Locke – Political theorist / philosopher 


Johnathan Bennett:  John Locke - The Second Treatise of Government


David Armitage, Harvard University: Carolina & the Two Treatise of Government


Morag Barbara Arneil BA. MSc. John Locke:  All the World was America http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1317765/1/283910.pdf

John Quiggin Australian Economist:  John Locke – Against Freedom


John Quiggin:   Zombies Stalking the land – dead ideas still walk amongst us


Kenan Malik:  John Locke and the Not Quite so Glorious Revolution -


 Kenan Malik:  The Quest for a Moral Compass – a Global History of Ethics

Review – Cleveland State University


Bible:  New King James Version 

Amos 5.24 Let Justice roll down like a river …

Matthew 28.2 … and rolled back the stone

Research for this work was supported by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu through the Ngai Tahu Fund (2016).




Moana Tipa: info@moanatipa.com