Biennale of Sydney

John Miller and Elisapeta Heta

John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, 'Pouwātū: Active Presence', 1969 – 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, 'Pouwātū: Active Presence', 1969 – 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, 'Pouwātū: Active Presence', 1969 – 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, Pouwātū: Active Presence, 1969 – 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, Pouwātū: Active Presence, 1969 – 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.

John Miller
Born 1950 in Auckland, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Lives and works in Auckland and other areas throughout Aotearoa / New Zealand

Ko John Miller ahau.
My name is John Miller
He Uri ahau o nga Hapu o Te Uritaniwha, Ngaitewake ki te Tuawhenua, Te Whiu o Ngapuhi Nui Tonu, i roto i te Rohe o Te Tai Tokerau, me Scotland me England.
I am descended from the sub-tribes of Te Uritaniwha, Ngaitewake ki te Tuawhenua, Ngati Rehia and Te Whiu of the Ngapuhi Tribe of Northland, in the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand, as well as from Scotland and England.

Elisapeta Heta
Born 1987 in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland

He uri ahau no Ngātiwai, Waikato Tainui, Sāmoa, Tokelau me Inarangi
I am a descendant of Ngātiwai and Waikato Tainui tribes, as well as of Sāmoa, Tokelau and England
Ko Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta tōku ingoa
My name is Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta


"He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga whakaaro. To see a face is to stir a memory. Pouwātū symbolises what this exhibition intends to embody: a statement of active presence. The active presence of John’s photographic practice over five decades, dynamic and a view from within; the active presence of a wharenui, a vessel, an ancestor, an archive of a place, a library, a place to meet, sleep, kōrerorero (dialogue), the face of a collective history and of an aspirational future; the active presence people, Māori and tangata Tiriti (non-Māori, constituent communities in Aotearoa, whose citizenship is made possible by way of Te Tiriti o Waitangi)." - Elisapeta Heta

Photographer John Miller (Ngāpuhi), has been active since the late 1960s, well-known particularly for his vast documentation of protest movements in New Zealand. His extensive archive centres Maori people, culture and communities, often from an insider perspective, providing an invaluable counter-point to mainstream histories and offering candid images of people and everyday events at Ratana Pā, Māori Women’s Welfare League hui (gatherings), the first New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Society hui and gatherings of the Polynesian Panthers.

Architectural designer, Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta (Ngātiwai, Waikato Tainui) has worked in dialogue and in collaboration with Miller to produce this architectural emplacing, extending and unfolding of his work, ‘balancing the taha wairua (spiritual) with the taha tinana (physical) understanding of space.’ Their work together traverses many times, places, and movements, holding sovereignty as a central thematic across the display.

Heta works through a multi-disciplinary practice to create experiences that make visible our stories, many which have been hidden or eroded – with a focus on Indigenous and wāhine (women’s) stories. She has worked through her practice Jasmax on several cultural and civic projects, as well as through her personal practice as an artist, on multiple exhibitions and publications that sought to educate, empower and to affirm sovereignty and connectedness to identity and whenua (land). 

Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand
Courtesy the artists

Exhibited Artwork

John Miller and Elisapeta Heta, Pouwātū: Active Presence, 1969-2020, mixed-media installation. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Creative New Zealand. Courtesy the artists.

Photograph: Zan Wimberley

Location: Campbelltown Arts Centre