Photographer Martin Toft spent six months living among iwi deep in the Whanganui River lands in the mid-1990s. They honoured him with the Māori name Pouma Pokai-whenua. By returning 20 years later, again with his camera, Toft completed part of a promise to the iwi, and publishing this book fulfils the rest of that pledge.
Te Ahi Kā – The Fires of Occupation explores in photographs, archives and interviews some of the key political, environmental and cultural issues for the iwi as it has sought return of its historical lands at Mangapapapa. This sumptuous hardback production, with fold-out pages, fine binding and alternate female (fern) and male (embers) cover designs, is now featuring in photo book festivals worldwide.
Te Ahi Kā evokes the physical and metaphysical relationship between a river and its ancestors, between Māori and the author. It aims to leave a legacy for future guardians of the Whanganui, and to share the aspirations and desires of this unique community.a