Tia Barrett

Tia Barrett

Master of Visual Arts student

Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Te Rapuwai, Waitaha, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tamainupō

She feels brave enough to study again and breathe life into her creative practice, says Tia Barrett who is currently studying a Master of Visual Arts.

“From my initial expression of interest in the Master of Visual Arts, I was taken care of really well by the School of Art and Design. The communication was consistent and regular, right through to finalising my enrolment. From that instant, I knew AUT was meant for my journey to return to postgraduate study.

“My whole experience has been truly transformational for me, and has been tauira focused. As a wahine Māori learner, artist and mature student who had negative experiences in the past with mainstream education, AUT has made me trust in the education system again.”

A healing journey
For her master’s degree research, Tia is exploring her wahine Māori identity through moving image, mōteatea, ambient sound and installation.

“My research title is He Pounamu Ko Āu, celebrating a mana wahine Māori narrative. I used my maternal whakapapa to celebrate and draw on my intergenerational wāhine talent. I use a mana wahine Māori paradigm that draws on knowledge from whakapapa, whakawhānaungatanga and wairuatanga. I also applied a conceptual identity framework of a pounamu pūrākau methodology, developed by my mother, Dr Alvina Jean Edwards, to reinforce my te ao Māori worldview and ways of knowing for my research.

“I chose to study this kaupapa to voice my experiences of the challenges and adversities I faced as a wahine Māori learner coming through our New Zealand mainstream education system. By unpacking my experiences, I rebuilt myself again from my traumas and took on a healing journey with my creative practice. This research is for my whānau as a gift. I hope that my research can reach and inspire other wahine Māori who may have had a similar experience to return to their creative practice or further study.”

Tia’s Master of Visual Arts research is supervised by Nova Paul and Dr Maree Sheehan from AUT’s School of Art and Design.

“My supervisors are both practising artists within their fields, knowledgeable kaiako and have been an absolute source of inspiration for my journey in the Master of Visual Arts programme. I’ve found our supervision meetings helpful to stay focused on my master’s degree kaupapa.”

Supported to thrive
Tia says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT's Master of Visual Arts.

“For me, the visual arts programme has developed and refined my creative practice, and I feel there has been considerable growth in my knowledge of how to apply my film techniques. I have a background in producing short films, and I now feel confident to explore using my film practice in a gallery space and cinema. The programme has made me and my creative practice more adaptable to different spaces to show Māori films.

“Sometimes studying can be a lonely journey, especially when you’re deep within your writing modes. What helped me with not feeling alone was attending MAI ki Aronui wānanga and meeting other Māori and indigenous students who are also going through their study journeys. Plus, every wānanga is full of beautiful nourishing kai, korero and waiata, which are always good for the hinengaro, wairua and tinana.”

She already has a good idea how she sees her future after graduation.

“My future plan moving forward with He Pounamu Ko Āu is to take it back home to exhibit in Te Waipounamu. For me, it’s very important for this taonga to return to the whenua it was inspired from and to show it to my whānau who live there. He Pounamu Ko Āu was my healing journey; now, it is a koha back to my people. I’m also working on new work for the exhibition Toi o Te Tau Hou, alongside nineteen other artists.”

More about Tia and her work

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