Sara (Hera) Tautuku Orme is a photographic artist exploring communities within Aotearoa.
You can view more of her practice at saraorme.com
Te Teko (2009- ) is part of an on-going work referencing my whānau (family) and our tangata whenua (people of the land), in the small, predominantly Māori populated town of the same name in Aotearoa New Zealand. A personal series, which began soon after the death of my father some 15 years ago, is rooted in my exploration of our tūpuna, (ancestors) whakapapa (genealogy) and the takaoraoratanga (conflict) my father and the generations before us faced.
Continuing this kōero (conversation) through my photographs has become essential to my work. It’s important for these stories to be shared and understood.
Te Teko is a powerful community and symbolic of indigenous cultures universally who continue to struggle with loss and hope from the aftermath of historic land theft.
This kaupapa draws strongly on the complexity of colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, The Raupatu, (land theft) consequences of dislocation and assumes norms that are referenced from history, memory, whenua (land) and my own relationship with whānau (family) and Te Teko today.
I continue to learn about my tūpuna (ancestors) as I reflect the life around me and the world I grew up in as a Pākehā Maori, wahine (woman).
The whenua (land) is the life force of the Ngāi Awa People. For a people whose land is both spiritual and functional, the lingering impact and consequences of colonial land confiscation are still so visible and felt today, over 150 years later.
By understanding the past we can understand the present and look towards a future with progressive ideals.
Redemption (2012) is an exploration of the historic idea centred around female sin but was first a response to an environment I stumbled across, while on a solo road trip, in New Zealand. Quite by accident I came across a convent house, rich with history, and founded by Sister Aubert who housed illegitimate children. I’m not a religious person but there was something powerful about this very ‘female’ environment that has been untouched for decades.
Through both feminism and femininity Redemption explores the historic idea of female energy, sin, temptation and the desire to not deny one’s own limitations which was once considered outgrowths of ‘feminine character.’ Historically many religions believe that women ‘apparently’ did not face the same temptations as men.
Free from others for one’s own self-definition; Self-centredness, and self-identity can be considered the very essence of one’s soul, power and liberation. Themes I am perpetually drawn to.
She Once Said
As Co Founder and Creative Director of Girl Undiscovered, a skincare company, I was focused on visionary
and interesting ways of seeing ‘beauty’. Founded in 2015, Girl Undiscovered quickly became a global force and was sold recently in the USA. Note Girl Undiscovered was founded in 2015. The industry and the world we live in has evolved since then.
She Once Said, a series of stories shot for Girl Undiscovered, under ‘Real Girl’ encouraged a movement away from
How we felt and not just how we looked. With this was a focus on liberation when connecting with our own skin and ultimately ourselves.
The Real Girl story went beyond shooting another beauty campaign and pushed back on the traditional idea that beauty is all about appearance.
Real Girl is a collaborative process with myself, Girl Undiscovered, and our Real Girls. We were both unapologetically ourselves with a rawness both in photography, the stories and a realness not often seen in the beauty industry during this time.
This is Not The Red Carpet
I observed this phenomenon during the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 in disbelief. The unequal power relationship between men and women on full display in broad daylight was a microcosm of the wider world. The dominant culture was still clearly deaf to the cries of Feminism.
I returned in 1993, a pregnant young mother, determined to turn my lens on the male gaze and reclaim some power.
The resulting series captured the predatory photographers before, during and after their hunt. Their brazen sense of entitlement on exhibition marks a time and culture that gave rise to the Weinsteins of the world and eventually the Me Too movement.
Ironically, this pioneering project, a response to my immersion in third wave feminism, was quietly sidelined by a society that couldn’t equate motherhood with a career in documentary photography.
I lost all confidence and put this work in the bottom draw for almost 30 years..
Looking at it today I see it as a historical document of how things were and a reminder of how far we’ve come. It demands I shake off the equalities of the past, value my worth and fight to give it the life it deserves.
Freedom In My Hands
Most of us don’t need to consider what it would be like coming from a country where women were never given an opportunity to drive…To not be able to shop, collect our kids, or even own a car. Freedom In My Hands is just one story of refugee women who arrive in Aotearoa, often with no family to support them and often with children to raise but with a determination to improve their lives.
Freedom In My Hands is a collection of stories from refugee women who find freedom with their hands on the wheel of they own cars.