My name is Lester Hall and I was born Pakeha in Wellington, New Zealand in 1956.
I have been self supporting through my art for the last twenty years.
I have painted and studied New Zealand history and Maori/European/Pacific centric artwork all of that time.
I have worked as a design and display technician with the most extensive and important collection of Maori and Pacific artifacts in the World at the Auckland Institute and Museum.
This meant constant interaction with the most noted ethnologists, historians and museum curators in the country.
My printed works are a collection of what the last 20 years of my life has taught me…not to mention what being brought up in White living rooms has given me.
I could prattle on here about what art and where etc I have done but apart from saying that my Tapa paintings represent a bedding in for me of my status as a Pacific Islander stats about me hold little interest.
I prefer in this context some specificity as to my nature and my drivers as the race relations commentary I make is often misconstrued as either White supremacist or Maori centric.
I consider myself an outsider artist, social commentator first and my art is a vehicle for my thoughts and philosophies and aspirations for my country. My art is a conversation with myself and represents moving thought not static dogma. My prints are not numbered and I change them to reflect or emphasise my thoughts whenever I choose to.
I am proud to be a Pakeha.
It is for Pakeha to define what Pakeha means. It is a Maori word but a Pakeha state of mind.
I am amazed that what I call Whities are so worried by the term.
Pakeha, Pakeha, Pakeha.
I look to a time when a Pakeha political party sits opposite a Maori political party and discuss what
they want the crown to do. For the crown is what we, Maori and Pakeha make it be.
As a Pakeha, I am not the crown. I stole no land, I passed no Dog Tax law but I must understand a catastrophic, colonization event befell the indigenous tribes of New Zealand we now collectively call Maori. An event far worse than any localized earthquake.
I do not accept responsibility for the chaos that was wreaked in their lives or their broken hearts or
their less than average outcomes since.
I do however accept shared responsibility as a citizen for the outcome of my nation and if I am not willing as a functioning member of this society to work toward a better outcome for Maori as well as Pakeha then I am found wanting intellectually and spiritually.
I say this with a very clear understanding that I have no interest in entertaining any "Maori" ideas that I am a visitor in my own land.
I understand that it is easy for maori to identify me as the shape and colour of those who conspired to take large tracts of their land but it was not me, and it is not my politics.
To those who take my taxes as benefits and hate me for my colour I say, "wake up, the hundreds of little decisions you make every week have brought you to this place you sit, not my evil nature! The blaming of me is nothing more than a crutch upon which leans a pathetic effort."
Being Pakeha is the most exciting thing in my life and represents the chance to be part of an evolving new culture, one that draws on the new sciences and the old styles and thoughts of the indigenous.
I am not saying I want to be Maori or hang out at the marae, I am saying that Maori are part of me and they are hinged to my nations outcome as sure as a door to a house. "Oil the hinges" I say, "maintain the door",not to make the door quite but to make it a solid, useful door against the elements.
I choose not to identify Maori as deadbeat dole bludgers.
That is an entirely socio/economic/parenting problem. Failed Maori are what we (Maori & Pakeha) have inspired them to become.
As a Pakeha prefer to identify Maori as possible earners, leaders and philosophers of a sparkling New Zealand.
I believe that like our personal character a nation must be created on a daily basis
and that requires a fierce energy for outcome. The people must take responsibility for their freedoms and loudly demand Liberty, Equality and Fraternity or the fabric of what they hold dear is under threat.
Benjamin Franklin said "anyone who is not willing to die for his freedom does not deserve it."
He does not say, "so we, the strong will die for him." He says, "turn up and fight for your beliefs or fall in the mud and dust of the weak."
To those who would arm our police I say "shame on you, do not let our very identity as a nation of courageous, freedom loving people fall apart so easily. Allow some chaos that we might walk without fear of uniformed gunmen in our midst."
My art is unashamedly a "call to arms" metaphorically however.
Pakeha, turn up to what you want for your country. Turn up to Maori and speak with them about your aspirations that they might be a successful indigenous people. Do any of us want Maori to fail? Just as Pakeha have no other land, so, Maori have no other land. Maori belong to Pakeha and Pakeha belong to Maori, we are now brothers in the same land after all.
My stand is for the middle ground were we can be different but unified in purpose.
In Aotearoaland, a "third space" is created, outside the dogmatic stupidity and hypocrisy of exclusively Maori or Euro frameworks and a blended outcome is searched for. Not sameness but unity and identity. I believe the idea of separate development is outrageous controlling of outcome for individuals who otherwise would make fine lives for themselves in a culturally hybrid frame of reference.
So, I sometimes paint tough ideas in pretty colours in an attempt to bring more and more Pakeha Kiwis especially, to the scary conversation of who we all are.
Using Rugby as an analogy, I am happy for Pakeha and Maori teams to be made up to create strong competition so we each drive the other to be our best but when it comes to the crunch, we must identify as one and face the World united. Go the Blacks!
Help kids to succeed, not breed.
My art looks toward a tipping point where we actually decide to form a nation, not just live in one that is turning out to be whatever it is turning out to be.
I create the very best artworks I can personally every time with the best materials I can purchase. I make these images for the pleasure, inspiration and interest of others and not for their long term profit.
If a person buys the work they can be sure I will stand by what I have created in every sense in that if it is flawed, it will be replaced.