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Following on from 'Tribe', an exhibition by Tania Niwa (sponsored by Queensberry) in 2017, this album was made for a family who had suffered a tragedy. Tania and Mary Raukawa Newton share how these photographs connect families and cultures.

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"These fine art images are from a family portrait commission I have been working on," Tania says. "They feature in a custom-made leather album for widower Mary Raukawa Newton and her little boy Leighton.

"Mary lost her fiancé Alekh when Leighton was a few weeks old. Her fiancé was of Nepalese heritage. Mary really wanted to be able to share these special images with both her family here in New Zealand and Alekh's family in Nepal."

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Mary wanted portraits taken at the beautiful coastal location of Mokau, one hour north of New Plymouth, with a view of the iconic 'Three Sisters' seascape at Tongaporutu, Mokau.

Mary said, "I've always felt deeply connected to Mokau. It is the point where my two 'rohe' (tribes) meet. When heading north, Taranaki, being my father's side, ends at Mokau and becomes [the province of] Waikato, being my mother's side. So both sides meet and connect here.

"It's almost like the way Leighton represents Alekh and I. Both cultures meet and connect through Leighton."

'Tamatane o nga Maunga', 2017, 1/25.

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'Tamatane o nga Maunga', 2017, 1/25.

'Tamatane o nga Maunga', 2017, was one of the featured works in Tania's 'Tribe' exhibition last year at The Bather's Pavilion, Australia.

"This artwork symbolises a little boy who is connecting one land with another, that of his mother who is of Maori heritage and his father who was of Nepalese heritage. As well as a deep connection with whenua (land), it also embodies wairua (spirit) and the bonds we as indigenous people have with family, tribe and culture."

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"Leighton’s mum said that, on Father’s Day in 2015, she honoured Alekh by adding “‘Alekh” to their son’s birth certificate, to be Leighton Tamatane Alekh Acharya. He wears a Maori Korowai (feather cloak) that his great-grandmother gave to her grandchildren to wear for a special occasion where they are blessed in their lives, for example when graduating university. Leighton’s mum was one of the first to wear this treasured Korowai. For Leighton to wear the cloak on this occasion was very fitting too."

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"Leighton’s Maori name was decided by a prominent, highly respected Taranaki Maori elder, Dr. Huirangi Waikerepuru, who was instrumental in the foundation and governance of the Maori language, Te Reo Maori, which he sought to be an official language of New Zealand.

Leighton’s family went to see a Koroua (Maori elder) and asked him to choose Leighton’s Maori name. The elder sought counsel with Dr Waikerepuru, who was presented their baby, and experienced spiritual vision, consequently naming the child “Tamatane o nga Maunga” which translates to "Leader of the Lofty Mountains.”

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An article about this story was also posted on Stuff NZ

The featured album is a 12x12 Overlay Matted album with Satin Printing. The cover is a Classic Black Leather with a Photo Cover Motif.

To see more photographs and the services she offers, visit Tania Niwa's website.

Victoria x

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