Liberty - Herekoretanga is an awe-inspiring installation that celebrates the achievements of women and embraces the beauty of diversity and the importance of environmental awareness. To signify and commemorate 130 years of women’s suffrage, the towering structure composed of 31,872 camellia flowers made from recycled bottles, is on display at Botany Town Centre from 19 September 2023.
In 2018, East-Auckland artist Wendy Hannah (European, Ngāti Awa, and Te Arawa descent) started the Camellia
Project NZ. The Camellia Project was built from the idea of creating the largest chandelier sculpture in Aoteaora, New Zealand. Over the last five years Wendy has visited schools and community groups throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, running workshops to make camellia flowers from recycled drink bottles and talking about the history of women’s rights in New Zealand alongside the importance of recycling and reducing waste.
In the 1890s, white camellias became a symbol of New Zealand women’s suffrage when suffragists gave the flowers to their parliamentary supporters to wear in the House to show their support for women’s rights. At the same time, 13 petitions, with a total of 31,872 signatures demanding that women be given the right to vote, were delivered to Parliament. On 19 September 1893, New Zealand became the world's first self-governing country to lawfully value women's right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Liberty – Herekoretanga features 31,872 carefully arranged and illuminated camellia flowers made in the workshops, each flower representing one of the signatures on the petitions presented to parliament in the 1890s. Each camellia made by communities throughout New Zealand reignites our history. The flowers, varying in shape, colour, and size, represent women's diverse experiences, backgrounds, and contributions throughout New Zealand’s history.
The Camellia Project NZ came together with the support of local schools and community organisations and with
funding support from Arts Out East, Te Tuhi, and the Howick Local Board. The production and installation of Liberty - Herekoretanga has been generously supported by Botany Town Centre, Arts Out East, and Te Tuhi.
Wendy Hannah (European, Ngati Awa and Te Arawa descent) is a local East Auckland contemporary artist. Since
graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts, her practice explores colour, refractive and reflective materiality and light. With the thought of art having the ability to make change, Hannah uses colour-ways to explore wider ecological, social and political change. With a strong interest in community, her experience reflects participatory workshops and community led activations (including working with Māori Womens Welfare League), as well as having artwork displayed throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and internationally.