Chevron Hassett

Chevron Hassett

Te Kupenga, 2024, totara, treated pine, paua, and acrylic.

Auckland’s central suburbs have witnessed intensive gentrification with many Māori families who once lived there having been pushed out by increased demand for these ‘character homes’.  Chevron Hassett links this with earlier waves of colonial settlement that displaced Māori from their land to build the urban landscape.

His work Te Kupenga is a hybrid, representing both a waharoa (gate) that would typically stand at the entrance of a pā (village), and an ornamental verandah, typical of colonial villas. It features whakairo (carving) patterns that speak to te ao Māori narratives of genealogy and knowledge transmission while mimicking Victorian lace or lattice work. It also conflates ideas of space and shelter. The verandah marks a threshold between the public space of the street and the private one of the home, while the waharoa invites passage onto the marae. 

Hassett describes the work as an interface between te ao Māori and te ao Pākeha. Standing over the walkway, framing the gulf, it can also be understood as an interface between past and future. With expanding settlement on Waiheke, the Matiatia headland is under threat of subdivision. Te Kupenga asks us to consider how we share, occupy, and value this space, and how we might ensure it remains for future generations to enjoy.

Chevron Hassett (b.1994, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Irish) lives in Otāhuhu. He holds a Bachelor of Design (Hons) from Massey University. He works in whakairo and photography to explore urban indigeneity, colonisation, and the politics of public space. In 2017, he was awarded the CNZ Ngā Manu Pīrere Prize, and, in 2022, was an Arts Foundation Springboard recipient, receiving a mentorship from Brett Graham. His recent projects include Far, Far Away, a solo show at Artspace, in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, in 2023, and public works for Hutt Hospital, Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai/Lower Hutt, and Te Tairawhiti Festival, Gisborne.