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G.I. Area A & B: Housing in New Zealand (1946 – ) at Ngā Taonga

Home is where the heart is

I grew up in a state home, my mum and my nieces and nephews still live in that state home and actually to us its not a state home, its our family home. Our names are etched in concrete from my dads home jobs and it holds memories of major events in our lives from births, birthdays to funerals. A house can be so much more than a house, and what I can’t imagine is my mum being forced out of hers. Luckily she’s not (at the moment), but that cant be said for the community of G.I. (Glen Innes).

Dieneke Jansen’s work G.I. Area A & B: Housing in New Zealand (1946 –  ) which is currently being screened at Ngā Taonga talks to the on going struggle of residents that live in housing New Zealand homes in G.I who are being forced out of their homes as the government has decided the land is very valuable and would like to sell it. Just like Ponsonby, G.I is being gentrified. The moving image work shows a dusky blue weatherboard house, night falls and a gathering is starting to take place. Children and adults are moving in front of the camera getting cordial and snacks in preparation for a film that is being screened on the side of the house. The movie being shown is from 1946 and is called Housing in New Zealand. During the 1946 film the narrator talks about 40,000 homes that are of poor living condition and I can hear one of the audience members gasp and say “It’s still the same!”.

There are many artists that make work with the intention of addressing socio-political issues but I feel like this is the first work this year that addresses a specific political issue while criticizing the current NZ government which is allowing it to happen. The G.I. housing project used to be a hot topic in the media and social networking but slowly the media isn’t really talking about it any more but that doesn’t mean that the problem has gone away. At work we were talking about parades and someone said the phrase “marching with meaning” and when I think about this work I think about it as being “making with meaning”. It’s a work with heart and genuine intentions to support a community that needs it and the artist is in it for the long haul.

I was at the opening of this exhibition and so I was privy to how much the artist means to the community and vice versa. Leaders of the Tamaki Housing Group attended the exhibition opening to support Dieneke’s work and thank her for giving the cause a voice through an art context, it was an emotional moment that I can confidently say that every one in the room felt. This is not really a review of the show but a text voice how important I think it is as G.I. Area A & B: Housing in New Zealand brings changes the way we think of ‘community art’.

Louisa Afoa

Defend state housing, defend our community, defend the right to housing in Aotearoa – Tamaki Housing Group

T-Shirts will be on sale at Nga Taonga to help fundraise, contact Paula Booker if interested: paulabooker@ngataonga.org.nz

If you would like to keep up with/contact The Tamaki Housing Group who resist evictions and privatization of public housing in G.I. you can like their page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DEFENDGI

Follow them on Twitter: defendGI

Or give them an email: defendgleninnes@gmail.com 

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