Maps have a subversive potential that is often ignored and overlooked. They have been used by rulers, whether kings or ‘elected’ governments to name and signify, telling us what places are called and why they are significant. There is a power in naming places, as those who fought for Bangalore to be called Bengaluru and those who call New Zealand by its Maori name- Aotearoa, can attest. It is never ‘just’ a name as the resistance to both changes shows!
While singularly unimpressed by Google Corporation’s dream of taking over the internet world, the potential of the maps application amazes me. Here is a chance to take back our world, so to speak, to name and signify in resistance to dominant forces, whether governmental, colonist, corporate or any other interests one would like to resist. The effectiveness of this resistance, however, is not so much in launching attack on the ‘enemy’, but in defending one’s position, maybe in helping one understand where one stands.
Much like the Maori Pa.
Maori Pa are earthenwork fortifications, sometimes with a wooden stockade on top. They were typically built in locations that overlooked possible attack points, and were known to be effective against the English settlers. The Pa was also used to store food and was a centre of learning and crafts. With the over running of Aotearoa New Zealand by the English, these Pa structures have mostly been lost, though the memory of their location remains.
While I knew two locations of Paa in Hamilton, it is thanks to an exhibition at the Waikato Museum that I can now see all the locations in the area. With thanks to Te Winika Gallery of the Waikato Museum and in response to this supressed history, here is another map.
View Maori Pa, Hamilton in a larger map
Update: Here is another intersting read on maps!