Opening of the Wairau Māori art gallery with the Puhi Ariki exhibition

The Wairau Māori Art Gallery is scheduled to open following an official karakia ceremony led by Te Parawhau at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 19, 2022, with its first day of public exhibition on Sunday, February 20. Located in the Hundertwasser Art Center and the Hātea Arts District in Whangārei, the Wairau Māori Art Gallery has been planned for many years.

The gallery was established to showcase the best of Maori art and provide New Zealand with its first public Maori art gallery solely dedicated to profiling Maori artists and the work of Maori curators.

“We are delighted to be at the stage where we can now announce the opening of the Wairau Māori Art Gallery and its inaugural New Year’s exhibition on Saturday February 19, 2022,” said Elizabeth Ellis, President of the Wairau Māori Art Gallery Charitable Trust. She adds: “The Covid restrictions have forced us to re-evaluate our timing. This new date will give us the opportunity to commemorate the birth, death and rebirth of Friedensreich Hundertwasser on February 19, 2022 while also celebrating the opening of the Wairau Māori Art Gallery and its inaugural exhibition Puhi Ariki curated by Nigel Borell.

This initiative started in 2012 and the Wairau Māori Art Gallery Charitable Trust has partnered with the Hundertwasser Non-Profit Charitable Trust in Vienna and the Hātea Art Precinct Trust to realize this ambitious collaborative project.

Maori art curator Nigel Borell, who recently curated the landmark Toi Tū Toi Ora exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery, is the curator of the first exhibition and presents a concept that plays on the importance of l contemporary Maori art for Northland with the title Puhi Ariki. He said, “The exhibition will showcase the work of nine Māori Top. John Miller, The Launch of Ngatokimatawhaorua 1974 Archival print, Collection of the artist. Below. Israel Tangaroa Birch Tinorangatiratanga, 2021 Lacquer on engraved stainless steel. Collection of the artist. artists who all have a connection to Northland. It will feature a mix of iconic contemporary Maori artists from the first generation alongside some of our more recent and established Maori art stars. “

Borell adds: “The title Puhi Ariki pays homage to the importance of the plumes that adorn the sailing waka where the puhi-maroke (the dry plume) sits above the puhimākū (the wet plume) at the tauihu (bow) of the waka. At the rear, at the top of the taurapa (stern post) is the plume called puhi-ariki. It is said that when the waka moves through the water, with ease and in unison, the puhi-ariki plumage will also glide along the water. Puhi Ariki is offered as a metaphor for balance, order and prosperity, both for Northland and for Maori art.

The inaugural Puhi Ariki exhibition will be accompanied by an exhibition catalog featuring new writings by leading Maori curators Megan TamatiQuennell, Karl Chitham and Nigel Borell, with a preface written by Wairau Māori Art Gallery President Elizabeth Ellis.

The opening of the Hundertwasser Art Center and the Wairau Māori Art Gallery will also feature a new sculptural louse commissioned by Maori artist Chris Bailey. It will stand at the entrance to the Art Center and welcome visitors as soon as they enter the building. Dr Benjamin Pittman, Trustee of the Wairau Māori Art Gallery, is the Chairman of the Te Pouwhenua o Tiakiriri Kūkupa Trust, Te Parawhau ki Tai, which are the iwi and kaitiaki of mana whenua of the Whangārei region. He says, “Te Parawhau ki Tai has provided cultural support and karakia at all stages of project development from Te Kākano (The Seed) and throughout. He will continue to provide cultural support to the project until its full completion and beyond. Te Parawhau ki Tai will therefore hold all the required ceremonies in the Hundertwasser building and will also offer a mauri stone for the water bowl commissioned by Wi Taepa which will be located in the Wairau Māori art gallery when it opens in February.

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William E. Bennett