Robyn Kahukiwa’s paintings of the 2000s look specifically at whakapapa (genealogy), including the completion of the journey from life to death. Her treatment of the subject of death grasps how human loss is an inclusive and continuous process of reconnection with ancestors who are regularly reborn into new generations.
The term whakapapa in the context of Whakapapa Birth & Death further refers to the realms of spiritual, mythic and human stories that provide substance to Māori identity. Kahukiwa’s ability to speak confidently and construct narratives about the diversity of political struggle is a proven and dynamic course of action that has been subtle and provocative. Perspectives on the past are a vital cultural indication of who we are, who we have become and our options for the future.