Top photographer back where she made her name

By Matthew Martin


Rotorua residents looking for a glimpse into the past have the rare opportunity to view photographs of the city and its people and meet one of the country's top photographers.

One of New Zealand's most celebrated photographers, Ans Westra, is revisiting North Island Maori centres where she first made a name for herself almost 50 years ago.

Her four-week road trip is taking her back to four places where she was particularly active in the 1960s and 1970s, capturing images of everyday life for Maori families living in Ruatoria, Ruatoki, Rotorua and Whanganui.

Her "Full Circle" tour will see her pictures displayed at Rotorua Primary School from February 18 to 23. The exhibition is free and Ms Westra is hoping to reconnect with some of the people in her photographs.

"In the 1960s, Maori were going through a cultural change and adopting certain European ways, but at the time very few people were documenting what was happening in communities.

"Most images of Maori had a strong tourism angle with their ceremonies and costumes, which was not their entire culture," she said.

"I was fortunate to have been invited into homes and onto marae, capturing images that showed what was really happening, I feel like I'm the holder of real treasure.

Ms Westra will also meet students interested in the arts, particularly photography, at local schools and will gather information to accompany her collection of negatives stored in New Zealand's National Library in Wellington.

Former Rotorua man and road trip co-ordinator David Alsop said the journey would allow Ms Westra to photograph those communities again and offer a unique perspective on how those communities had changed.

"It will be interesting to see who we meet along the way, I'm expecting there will be many stories and memories shared.

"Getting into schools and meeting those interested in photography will also be a special part of the trip. Ans and I are very passionate about photography and her wealth of experience will no doubt be a highlight for anyone she meets," Mr Alsop said.

For details about the "Full Circle" tour visit www.suite.co.nz.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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