Ngātahi is photographer Emma Baker’s reflection on where we were, where we are now and where we want to go.

Ngātahi is about recognising social disparities – reflecting on where we were, where we are now and where we want to go. Shot in 2020, this series developed as Aotearoa, NZ’s first lockdown restrictions relaxed, and people kept telling me that life still felt the same as before lockdown.

Being locked down with 3 kids (my youngest was 4 weeks old when lockdown began) gave me a glimpse of a slower-paced life and highlighted environmental and social issues in my community and beyond. Yet I saw people focussed on their online shopping, then returning to busyness and consumerism as if we’d learnt nothing. I was also shocked to see people in my community turning a blind eye to social disparities.

My own ideas of what and who is important shifted.

Everything about individual’s situations, experiences and opinions seemed polarising. I’m connected and spoke to people at extreme ends of the scale and so many of them don’t see the work there is to be done to bring gaps closer together. Expectations of compassion differed.

Humanity seems a faster spreading problem than the virus on our doorsteps.

If coming out of lockdown feels like the old normal, that seems a sign we should work together to shape a new normal and take the opportunity to sow seeds that inspire. To consider the world we want to live in and leave our children. To do the mahi (work) that shapes a new normal where open-minded, meaningful interactions, showing kindness and compassion to all is the only normal.

Ngātahi. Together, as one, in unity.


The photographer

Emma Baker

Photographer Emma Baker is passionate about showing a realistic, relatable world. Creating poignant and dramatic but natural portraits, and capturing transitional moments that reveal narratives with a gritty, credible edge.

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