whānau mārama

6 minute video by Sonja van Kerkhoff, 2022
Original composition performed by Te Toroa Pōhatu

  video  by Sonja van Kerkhoff
still: at 28 seconds

Original song and voice: Te Toroa Pōhatu
English translation: Te Toroa Pōhatu, Sen McGlinn, Sonja van Kerkhoff
Photographs of the nightsky from across the globe courtesy of unsplash.com
Photographs: Haiming Xiao, Milan Ihl, Andy Holmes and Dmitry Bessonov
Painting: A Paradox of Place, Sonja van Kerkhoff
Video, animation and soundscape: Sonja van Kerkhoff

  video  by Sonja van Kerkhoff
still: one minute into the video of an animation

  video  by Sonja van Kerkhoff
still at 3:11

The title of the song "Whānau Mārama" written and sung by Te Toroa Pōhatu has multiple meanings. It is used to refer to the "the Constellations" (The Family of the Stars) but it also means "Heavenly Family," "Family of Understanding" or "Family of Light." Another interpretation of the words, "whānau mārama" is birth of understanding and in 2022 in Aotearoa New Zealand, Matariki is celebrated as a public holiday for the first time - a birth of understanding for all of Aotearoa.

The video begins with a sunset seen in the Far North of Aotearoa New Zealand - dusk as a time for transition - changes into a night sky where the glow of the moon is animated to resemble an eye, sometimes a globe and other times an indistinct glow. The moon as a metaphor for sight or understanding by night is recurring motif in the song and the video, along with nightsky photographs taken across the globe. The painting, A Paradox of Place, is an interpretation of the Matakriki constellation where the frame is made out of pieces of wood found on the street in the Netherlands. Any frame we put on the sky is a paradox. Yet in order to understand things often we need to label or to place a boundary. The naming the stars is means for connection - a form of empathy for our natural world/s.

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