Powerful Portraits By a Young Māori Photographer Looking For His Heritage

Powerful Portraits By a Young Māori Photographer Looking For His Heritage

Essay by Laura Pitcher

Photos by Chevron Hassett

Published in VICE

8 February 2017

There's a photo on Wellington photographer Chev Hassett's website of a letter that his father sent from Rimutaka Prison. The handwriting loops around and around, and the words do too, in heartbreaking ways. "Sorry for not being there for you," he writes. "Sorry for being a shit dad son!" Not long after his release, Chev's dad was killed in a motorbike accident.

 Photo by Chevron Hassett

Photo by Chevron Hassett

Chev's personal and powerful photographic project, Ko Tooku taumata tonu, ko Hawaiki, came out of this tragedy. Growing up with a Pākeha mother and Māori (Ngāti Porou) father, Chev says it's his way of trying to understand his Māori side. "Hawaiki is like the place where they say some Māori come from and where we all go when we die, like our heaven," says Chev. "So it's just me trying to find myself, my peaceful place and for me to engage more with my culture in a more formal way."