'Kiwindian' questions NZ culture

Unusual: Teacher Sudhir Kumar Duppati used performance art to raise debate about citizenship.
Unusual: Teacher Sudhir Kumar Duppati used performance art to raise debate about citizenship.

A Blenheim teacher celebrated being granted New Zealand citizenship with a unusual performance piece on Waitangi Day.

Visual artist and Marlborough Boys' College art teacher Sudhir Kumar Duppati, who describes himself as "Kiwindian", donned ethnic attire for his one-man show on Market St, Blenheim.

He braved the elements in just a leather skirt and sandals, causing passers-by to look twice.

Mr Duppati, originally from India, took the oath of allegiance two months ago with his wife and two children to become New Zealand citizens.

The performance art/installation saw a European baroque-style chair, a white table and white bench placed inside a chalked circle. The chair signified the Crown, the central table the Treaty of Waitangi and the bench, Maori people.

Mr Duppati wrapped the installation in red wool to signify the binding of the agreement. People stopped and shared their views and ideas about culture.

Mr Duppati was happy the performance piece sparked interest.

"I wanted to create an outfit that was ethnic. I wore it on the plane from Auckland recently to test the public's reaction and it attracted a lot of attention and people were very curious."

Taking the oath of allegiance sparked questions of nationality, Mr Duppati said.

"I am trying to locate the whole aspect of immigration. I come from a country that was colonised. Having then gained independence I know the value of freedom. I get that sense of freedom in New Zealand. I want to raise the question of multiculturalism. My question is what is a Kiwi? Is it strictly for people who are born here, what about those people who gain citizenship?

"When I came here I stood out but the question of my identity drifted off. Now the focus is to do with values and principles and respect and value each other's views."

The Marlborough Express