April 14 2017.
My father standing infront of his girlfriend's home in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Inside, his girlfriend and her two children reside.
My father lived here for 5 years after losing his job and while dealing with his declining health. During this time, my father and I spoke occasionally and visited rarely. However, through the gradual increase of visits and photographs, we began to reconnect.
April 26 2017 / December 2 2016.
A contrasting image of the different landscapes my father is now accustomed to between New Zealand and Canada. One of the things he misses most is the landscapes of New Zealand; the mountains, hills, winding roads and oceans. At the top, Mt Ruapehu is viewed from the Rangipo Desert on the side of State Highway 1, also known as Desert Road, New Zealand. This is one of the natural landmarks my father wanted me to see while visiting New Zealand. At the bottom is a common view for myself from a gas station on the side of Highway 115, Ontario, Canada. I pass this view every time I visit my father in Peterborough, Ontario. This shows the landscape that is now ordinary to my dad, in comparison to the mountainous plains he once knew and I recently experienced.
April 27 2017.
A framed photo of my Nana Kiwi sits in her brother Stan's home amongst knickknacks in Martin, New Zealand. Nana Kiwi was a name my father distinguished her with since we were little, mirroring the nickname for New Zealand people.
Having never met my Nana in person, and with her passing in 2014, I only ever knew the stories of her from my father, and the short, poorly-connected web video chats we attempted to have while I was growing up. After her death, the family began to disconnect from each other. Fortunately, while visiting New Zealand, I was able to meet all of my Nana’s brothers who remained alive. When meeting my Uncle Stan specifically, the family said I got glimpse into the person my Nana was through him.
May 7 2017.
In Auckland, New Zealand, my Great Uncle Ken sat on the porch of my second cousin’s home, about to light a cigarette. Only a short while after my visit to New Zealand, he passed away on November 29 2017. As one of the few, remaining siblings of my Nana, I felt privileged to meet him during my short time there and gain a sense of her in person.
May 9 2017.
A message can be seen through a hole in a carving of the Te Noho Kotahitanga (United Stay) Marae at Unitec's Mount Albert campus, Auckland, New Zealand. Marae's are sacred "meeting grounds" for Maori people. Although this Marae was not my family’s, the first words I read resonated strongly: “I am here. I am home. I am myself”. This is a Marae my Uncle visits fairly regularly. Many Marae’s have different messages hidden in the carvings that cover the walls.
April 25 2017.
My Uncle Murray candidly leaning on our family’s Marae while conversing with my cousins and sister.
As previously mentioned, in Maori culture, a Marae is considered the “meeting grounds” for the community. These centres host various celebrations and follow traditional practice. Located 3km east of Te Puke, New Zealand, on State Highway 2, the Moko Marae was a sacred home for our family. This visit was a first for the entire family, as my Uncle has raised his kids with his wife’s Maori side. Because it is not the same tribe, their Marae is located elsewhere.
May 6 2017.
My cousin Vincent (Vinny) climbing out of the secluded pool of Kitekite Falls near Piha Beach, New Zealand. With us was various members of our family. To get to this part of the falls, we hiked freely through brush and rocks. Vinny reminds the family of my father at his age in his appearance and character. They have never met. During my visit, I developed a good relationship with Vinny.
May 7 2017 / June 13 2017.
Before I left for New Zealand, my father's anxiety increased significantly and he provided me with a pile of hand-written notes outlining aspects of his life in New Zealand, the family, the land, etc. On this specific page, my father breaks down the family tree with causes of death. Paired with these notes is a portrait of my Uncle Graham - my father's brother who has significant distance from the family. When meeting and interacting with some of my father's brothers (my uncles), I noticed various similarities both in physical appearance and character between them and my father. I took this portrait in the short 20 minute visit we shared.
December 24 2017.
My father sitting next to me in his shed talking about the past few weeks and months in which he has struggled with his mental health and day-to-day life. My younger brother sat across from us listening.
May 4 2017
At the top of the North Island of New Zealand, the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet and crash. This meeting place is called Cape Reinga. In Maori beliefs, this is where the dead depart for their journey after death. Located at 100 km north of Kaitaia, Cape Reigna remains to be a busy tourist location.
Water has always been spiritual and connective for my sister and I. Watching these two bodies of water crash and repeat showed us something physical that connects our opposite ends of the world.