‘Te Whanga A Reipae’ will feature six Māori artists who are making a significant impact here in Aotearoa and abroad. The upcoming March exhibition at the Wairau Māori Art Gallery will also mark one year of operation for the world’s first public Māori art gallery.
“A whare for our culture has been open one year. This is a cultural whare for all Māori and indigenous peoples and national and international audiences. In 2022 - a year disrupted by the pandemic and vengeful storms – our exhibitions showcased high-quality contemporary art by Māori artists, Māori designers and Māori curators.” Chair Elizabeth Ellis (CNZM).
This exhibition will be the inaugural curatorial debut of Ngahuia Harrison, the first wahine curator for Wairau Māori Art Gallery.
“This being my first curatorial experience in a public gallery speaks to the exciting model that Wairau Māori Art Gallery represents, a model of trust and uplifting. This model genuinely makes way for Māori, especially younger Māori, to have a go in spaces we don't often get opportunities” says Harrison.
“I'm excited for 'Te Whanga a Reipae' because it draws on local history at an exciting time when the importance of New Zealand's history is being recognised. The story of Reitū and Reipae, as well as other kōrero tuku iho, are the histories of Aotearoa – the first histories of this place. This history occurred long before the idea of 'New Zealand.' ”
The exhibition draws on the strength of ‘whakapapa’ as the connector of people in te ao Māori. A shift away from more recent usage whereby land is understood as something that divides us. This conversation has become common through the recent focus on Treaty Settlements, but 'Te Whanga a Reipae' pivots from that kōrero and looks at the ways that whakapapa has always connected us, today and mai rānō.
The kōrero tuku iho, so important to Whangārei, of the Tainui tūpuna Reitū and Reipae and their marriages into Northland - recognises the connection between the North and Tainui because of these wāhine. That history is the is the invitation to artists who whakapapa to Te Taitokerau and/or Tainui waka, and whose practices in different ways draw upon the notion of whakapapa.