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                     FROM THE LAND : FOR THE LAND

This work was completed over 1980-1981 while renting extra studio space in Ponga, a rural suburb of Papakura, where I was living in a space which did not have the ability to handle working on something of this size.

It is a 10 panel mural in the form of an allegory based on the life of Rua Kenana, a Tuhoe visionary and prophet. The work caused a little controversy when it was suggested that it should go in the Council Chambers. The mural was given a 6 month trial, then voted to remain where it stayed until amalgamation with Auckland Council when the works were put into storage.

Each panel is composed of 4 paintings each 6ft x 4ft with the
exception of 2 panels that are a little smaller. The basic concept underlying the execution of the work being that each painting, each panel and of course the entire work would be able to stand on their own as individual works.

The black and white texts and pictures are from a booklet produced by Manukau City Council for the opening function in the Council Chambers. The accompanying text was written by the Late Roderick Finlayson who I was privileged to work with. We discussed ideas, concepts etc. and took the work in progress out to schools and other institutions where we both tried to make more people aware of a relatively unknown part of our history

The work has recently been located and is going to be re-
photographed and hopefully re-exhibited. The original colour
photographs were used in a slide presentation current location unknown.

The land lay dreaming.
Long did the land await the life of people.
Above the Sky-father, below the Earth-mother.
Together they brought life to the land, and from earth’s womb, in due time, came the people.
The tears of the Sky-father watered the new soil, and trees and all plants flourished.
Lost in the mists of time is the beginning of the people – the people of the mists.
Until in the appointed time there came a child who knew not his father, a child exiled from his own people.
He grew strong and toiled for the bread of strangers, on land lost to his people, on the fringe of an alien world.
The ways of the newcomers from over the sea were hard ways.
Between the old and the new he was torn between two ways of life.

The growing child saw around him a war- racked people, disposed of their fertile lands, in their hopeless eyes, sickness of body and soul. The former champion of their hope of deliverance, defeated by greater force of arms, had become a refugee amongst them. Because of their loyalty to the defeated one, their homes and crops were laid waste and they fled to a mountain wilderness where hungry children sickened and died.

They scarcely hoped for a saviour.

Unto them came a man who was once that exiled child. His heart was filled with sorrow for their sufferings.

God looked on his sorrow and an angel lead him to climb the sacred mountain where the diamond of truth and salvation was hid in the everlasting rock.

God spoke to him there and appointed him a saviour of the land and a leader of his people, as Moses had led the children of Israel. He saw visions and portents, was given powers to heal as a sign of God’s grace.

Before all of the people he rode on a white horse and the horse was given the key to the future, with which it unlocked the sacred house of tradition and old things were made new, thus to build and uphold a new world, a new Jerusalem. With the scriptures they sang;                                                                                                                                 "O God if our hearts arise from the land in which we now dwell as slaves ….Do not, O God, cause us to be destroyed.”

Now this chosen man began to gather the hopeless around him. He talked to them and they  believed in the signs of God’s favour. Many followed him, even into the wilderness where he promised to  build for them a new Jerusalem, in which old superstitions would be vanquished, and the new law would be raised aloft on the strong twin pillars of the traditional and whatever was good and sound in the new world growing around them. He told them the diamond of their salvation was hid in their sacred mountain.

And he made of the diamond a sign, its four points being the symbol of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And below, on Earth, their Prophet.

The people now inspired with the power of the Spirit under guidance of the Prophet and began to build a village around the house, named the New Jerusalem and a Judgment seat named Zion.

All was laid out following the Scriptures and a place was kept sacred around the chief buildings.

Land surrounding the village was cleared for cultivation and crops were planted. Herds of cattle in due time were acquired and fattened. And these and certain crops were for the supply  to the settlements of those alien new-comers to this country, people with whom the prophet and his followers wished only to live in peace and friendship.

The peaceful and industrious community, made in the likeness of the Kingdom of God on earth, was established. The Prophet- king ordained a rule of law with strict observance of prayer and worship, and also of health and orderly conduct. All shared as one family in bounty or in dearth. The nation’s flag was above them inscribed:                             “ One law for the two peoples.”

But the land itself was sacred to the people of Zion, from the land came their life and their wealth. Others envied that land, and they pressed hard on the government which was theirs, to acquire what they desired. But the prophet was adamant against their desire, and he spoke of those people being swallowed up by their enemies over the ocean. So they became afraid and were incited by their newspapers and land speculators to revile the prophet.

And their government looked for ways to trap the prophet and exile him. It is the fate of prophets and spiritual leaders for Caesar to raise the spectre of sedition and treason against them. Cunning men had already tried to ensnare the prophet on charges of breaking minor laws. Once he had been imprisoned, sometimes fined. Cunningly, a suspended sentence was held over him.

“We shall capture him thus and so open the way to convict him of a treason and remove him from the midst of his followers ” said his enemies.

And they planned a raid on the sacred place.

From all quarters of the compass, armed men marched to lay siege to New Jerusalem.

So many men from the east,  so many from the south and sixty more men from the north and west. The massive column advanced on Zion.

They were armed with rifles and revolvers. They were companioned by baggage wagons and pack horse trains of supplies.

With them rode newsmen, photographers, interpreters and guides. With them too went a surgeon.

It was indeed an army to seize a man of peace.

Peacefully in New Jerusalem the Prophet prepared to meet an expected representative of the Government, in cordial discussion.

In the kitchens the women prepared a feast for their visitors.

But when all was ready for the siege, there came a shout of command and a wild charge into the sacred place. The Prophet, who had come out to welcome them, was hurled to the ground and beaten.

A shot echoed from the rocky ramparts of the sacred mountain. More shots from the police- and all was confusion.

Shot dead was the Prophet’s favourite son and also his son’s best friend. This had been a chance to settle scores by some of the offices with a grievance. Others were wounded, all were taken captive.

In such ways the venom distilled by government’s  duplicity becomes the foment of violence and the law is made a cover for injustice.

For long the Prophet languished in prison, his people left leaderless.

Unhindered, the agents of the government worked subtly among the people persuading them , forced to choose poverty and a little money, to open their lands for settlement.

This had long been the ambition of those who bitterly opposed the prophet’s people. Now they grasped the power to achieve this end.

From prison to  the place of trial in the Babylon City the prophet was arraigned.

Now in their power, his adversaries laid on him the charge they cherished against him, the charge of treason. To that they added the charge of inciting murder.

In the court the jurors cast aside those serious charges, as fair-dealing men given a chance, will spurn the infamy of the prosecutors of innocence.

Yet the judge branded him a guilty and dangerous man and sentenced him to a long term of imprisonment.

Others of his followers suffered too, and the lawyer who defended them was grievously maligned.

“This a lesson” said the Judge, “ that you people should learn from this trial.”

The court cases dragged on until even the the Minister of Police became embarrassed by the persecution of the prophets followers seemingly to the border of brutality.

So it is when a prophet speaks against those in power who plot to take his people's land.

The sacred place now lay deserted, the house of the New Jerusalem and the house of  Zion were demolished as blood had been spilt on that land.

                                         No one could live or work in those places of sacrilege.                                                 

No one was left to cultivate the land and it became a wilderness. The cattle were sold to pay for the trial.       

The land too was sold.

The wicked had triumphed!

Women and children suffered hunger and want.

But the agents of the government hardened their hearts and refused to sanction their succour.

“Let them beg for help amongst their own kind.”

Into this desolation came another man of God, a man from among the newcomer and he began to succour the needy and teach their children. So when the prophet was released and allowed to return to the remnant he had a new challenge to face. The man who had been the people’s only hope now worked alongside the newcomer. Two men of good will could work together. Two forms of worship could share the same places of prayer.

“We are all in the one house now.” There was still hope.

A road was formed in the valley and land planted in crops and their sale helped to save the people. After the yearly harvests, all joined in games, dances and feasts. Those were the good years.

But more and more of the land was passing out of the people’s hands. The old vision was gone.

The spirits were veiled in the mountain’s  mists.

The millennium would never come because the alien, the envious, the cunning and the greedy had won. 

Still the guide of his people in many ways this man of tribulations, grew old and weary

An old man he sickened and died.

To the last he urged the people to let the past lie and to study the Scriptures to prepare for what was to come – the harder times - that honoured saying: From the land, the power and prestige, now had become a bitter memory.

So much of their land was lost to strangers and no lasting benefits remained with them.

Long was that man mourned.

He did not rise again into this world, but was drawn up to his ancestors. All now seemed sorrow and loss. But his good works had placed an example before the people and a way of life and a lasting hope had been shown them.

Shown not only to the remnant but also to the nation now established around them – the way of peace and of tilling the soil, planting and harvesting,  honouring the Laws of the Sky-father and Earth-Mother, renouncing all sins of greed and spoliation.

Would men and rulers of men listen?

When will men listen?

See what has befallen,

Our Mother Earth is raped,

to rob her and squander her treasure on baubles.

All this to benefit the heartless and uncaring, in distant lands.

The lives of all here are now in servitude to the avaricious and the sophisticated,

who hold nothing sacred,

 who make desolate the land,

who use people as pawns,

to the God of Mammon and Power.

But the Spirit of other days beckons us, awaits us and will surely be our salvation, if only we turn away no more.

But first free the land from the blight of exploiters and listen anew to the song of Zion,

"O God if our hearts arise form the land ........ do not O God cause us to be destroyed"