Te Ahi Kā: The Fires of Occupation by Martin Toft

In the mid-1990s Danish photographer Martin Toft spent six months living among Māori communities far up the Whanganui River on New Zealand’s North Island, learning of their struggles to retain ancestral lands. Returning twenty years later to rekindle the spiritual kinship he had experienced, Toft started work on a book. Te Ahi Kā – The Fires of Occupation records that interaction in photos, archival images, interviews and text — summarising the key political, environmental and cultural issues for the iwi.

From Martin Toft's Te Ahi Kā: The Fires of Occupation.
From Martin Toft's Te Ahi Kā: The Fires of Occupation.

Craft-printed in Poland the hardback features superb colour and black and white photographs (spanning 1885 to 2017), fold-out pages, and alternate female (fern) and male (embers) cloth embossed covers. A pre-publication dummy version of the book was shortlisted for the Kassel Dummy Award in Germany in 2018.

Te Ahi Kā evokes the physical and metaphysical relationship between a river and its ancestors, between Māori and the author. It aims to leave a legacy for future guardians of the Whanganui, and to share the aspirations and desires of this unique community.

Te Ahi Ka has been selected to be included in the Spanish National Library’s exhibition at PHotoESPAÑA 2019 from 6 June to 1 September.

Hardback, female & male editions, 205 x 165 mm portrait, 200 pages colour incl. foldouts

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing.

About Martin Toft

Martin Toft is a photographer, photo book artist and educator who works on commissions and long-term collaborative projects. Born in Denmark in 1970, he has travelled widely and since 2004 has been based in Jersey, where he teaches photography at Hautlieu School. His work has been exhibited and awarded widely around the world.