Pepeha as map: the indigenisation of architecture school.

A pepeha is a different way of introducing one’s self. More personal than a business card, more bee’s knees than a personal greeting whereby one simply offers a name – which is then forgotten.

A pepeha offers all NZers, not just Māori, a way of learning about one’s sense of place.  A pepeha connects you to your landscape as taonga: to maunga, awa and moana. In doing so we learn more about the (his)stories of Aoteroa and thus all NZers can participate in the embrace of Māori culture. No matter where in the world you are or are from, a pepeha allows one to enter a Te Ao Māori and to find your mountain, your river, your sea, your boat, your land. You source your own personal wairua, your own personal mauri, your own mana whenua from those places you consider home. A pepeha is a map of your personal landmarks and these landmarks are your people.

Ko Mataatua me Queen Mary ngā waka
Ko Toitehuatahi toku-Moana
Ko Mauao te maunga
Ko Kaituna toku awa
Ko Mōtītī toku motuere
Ko Tauranga te papa rererangi
Ko Ngāti Awa me Ngāti Ranana ngā iwi
Ko Patuwai toku hapu
Ko Stichtingbureau de architectenregister de Nederlands me Royal Institute of British Architects me Te KāhuiWhaihanga ngā whare takuira
Ko WHAT_architecture te pakihi
Ko Aubrey tōku mātua
Ko Māui Pehiamuopatuwai tōku tama
Ko Anthony Hoete tōku ingoa

The Great Bear by Simon Patterson (1992) reworks the already brilliant London Tube map in an entertaining way but through minimal means. Patterson didn’t change the map’s overall appearance (the lines’ colours remain the same, the circle icons representing stations are intact and the fonts are all unchanged); what he does, on closer inspection, is to simply change the stations’ names and assign roles to the lines.
The Northern line thus represents ‘Actors’, the Central line ‘World Leaders’ whilst the Overground line ‘Comedians’. Tottenham Court Road is now ‘Gina Lollobrigida’; Camden Town ‘Peter Fonda’; Stratford ‘Napoleon’ and Brondesbury Park ‘Spike Milligan’. When different Tube lines intersect their roles overlap. So West Hampstead, where the Jubilee line (‘Footballers’) meets the Overground line (‘Comedians’) meet becomes ‘Paul Gascoigne’ – after the 1990s baffooning footballer.
As with any artwork, though, there’s something more profound at work with The Great Bear than mere amusement. By not just retaining the look and iconography but the exact detail of the Tube map, yet substituting the expected and often familiar station names for names of well-known figures from completely different realms of our experience, it creates a slightly jarring, even confusing effect. Although this effect may only be there for a few seconds until we figure out what’s going on and it becomes funny, it’s long enough to lodge in the brain and, thus, cleverly demonstrates how the everyday and the expected can be subverted.


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