Young artist’s search for un­der­stand­ing

Upper Hutt Leader - - WHAT’S ON - LUCY SWINNEN

Artist Chevron Te Whetu­mata­rau Has­sett’s work is al­ways deeply per­sonal.

Through his photo es­says and graphic art, the 22-year-old from Lower Hutt seeks to un­der­stand his fam­ily and iden­tity.

Has­sett, a pho­tog­ra­pher, vis­ual artist and graphic artist, was one of two emerg­ing young Maori artists recog­nised at the Te Waka Toi Awards, on the week­end.

His most re­cent project, Ko Toku Tau­mata Tonu, Ko Hawaiki, ex­plored his her­itage and re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther, who died un­ex­pect­edly last year.

‘‘Since he died I have grown up a lot,’’ Has­sett said.

It also changed the way he viewed his work. ‘‘That kind of gave me the per­spec­tive to make things a bit more than just a pic­ture.

‘‘From there, I did a solo project. It was about me find­ing peace from that.’’

His lat­est projects in­clude pho­tograph­ing Maori who grew up in Aus­tralia, and a long-term project to ex­plore his iwi, Ngati Porou. ’’All these projects are in­ter­twined and kind of re­late to each other: un­der­stand­ing my fa­ther, un­der­stand­ing my­self, un­der­stand­ing my tribe.’’

Has­sett had an ‘‘en­riched child­hood’’ grow­ing up on Ko­raunui Marae in Stokes Val­ley.

His grand­par­ents ‘‘in­vested in Maoridom’’ but he steered away from it at col­lege, he said.

His work is an op­por­tu­nity to cir­cle back to his roots. ‘‘With my per­sonal work I am re­ally push­ing to do work so that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions can look back and see how our tribe is.

‘‘I am re­ally young, only 22, try- ing to go through the right process and fol­low the pro­to­cols to al­low the work to have more mean­ing.’’

Has­sett said he was hon­oured to re­ceive an award and to be recog­nised on the same night as one of his idols, artist Cliff Whit­ing.

He sees it as a cul­mi­na­tion of his hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. ‘‘I am re­ally proud and re­ally happy that I was able to get to this point. I knew I could do it, I knew I could take things se­ri­ously.

‘‘This is just a lit­tle pat on the back ... this is help­ing me keep on the right path.’’

Has­sett and Briar Grace-Smith were the two re­cip­i­ents of the Nga Manu Pirere, recog­nis­ing achieve­ment by a young Maori artist at an early ca­reer stage.

Chevron Te Whetu­mata­rau Has­sett has won one of two awards for achieve­ment by a young Maori artist. Above, one of his pho­tos.

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