Collection
King Tāwhiao Tukaroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (Ngāti Mahuta, Tainui)

George Albert Steel, Elizabeth Pulman King Tāwhiao Tukaroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (Ngāti Mahuta, Tainui)

Tāwhiao, the second Māori king, visited Elizabeth Pulman’s Photographic Rooms in Tāmakimakaurau / Auckland in January 1882 as part of a grand tour of the city to mark the end of his rule in Te Rohe Pōtae or ‘the King Country’ – a seventeen-year-long resistance by Waikato-Tainui peoples to colonisation. Having admired an impressive collection of portraits of other rangatira (chiefs), Tāwhiao returned a few days later to choose several for himself. At this visit, Tāwhiao also arranged to return in a few days for his own sitting. The result was this impressive portrait by George Steel, Pulman’s principal photographer.

Collection
We are the Small Axe

Robin White, Ruha Fifita We are the Small Axe

The title of this tapa is a line from The Wailers’ song ‘Small Axe’. The artists use it to refer to struggles against colonial control in the Pacific, in particular Éloi Machoro, a leader of the Kanak pro-independence movement FLNKS, who smashed a ballot box with an axe in protest against the French territorial election in New Caledonia in 1984. Robin White and Ruha Fifita have collaborated on several tapa. White says, “We have created a hybrid artwork that integrates ancestral patterns and traditional design with contemporary imagery and pictorial narrative. The past is an anchor, a marker by which you can navigate forward.”Navigation is one of the themes in this work – the central shape is reminiscent of a vaka (canoe) filled with traditional and contemporary imagery being guided through the ocean by tuna (longfin eels) and fish. Tuna in particular are renowned for their extraordinary migratory journey from Aotearoa New Zealand to Tonga along the Kermadec Trench, locations that connect these two artists.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Stanford Family Pātaka Cabinet

John Henry Menzies Stanford Family Pātaka Cabinet

John Henry Menzies first took up woodcarving as a youth in Lancashire, England. He immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand aged twenty-one in 1860, and began farming on Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula in 1877. Menzies’ interest in Māori art began in about 1882. He is unlikely to have encountered whakairo (carving) and kōwhaiwhai (rafter patterns) as living traditions until visiting Ōhinemutu in Rotorua five years later. Captivated by what he felt were endangered art forms, he filled two of three houses he built at Kiri-kiri-wairea / McIntosh Bay (later Menzies Bay) and a church at Little Akaloa with extraordinary Māori-inspired furniture and decoration. His most spectacular pieces were made for family members – this highly decorative pātaka cabinet was made for his daughter Charlotte and her husband Edwin Stanford.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Not of This Time (Dreamland)

John Pule Not of This Time (Dreamland)

“The sky is second only to the sea as a mass that fills my imagination with awe.” —John Pule

John Pule was born in Niue and at a young age moved with his parents to Tāmakimakaurau / Auckland. He returned to his home country as an artist, poet and writer in 1991. Inventive in his adaptation of traditional art forms, Pule’s work considers Pacific and migrant cultures, often provocatively. In this work, the blue clouds may also be islands. He says:Blue is associated with travel, knowledge, family and scenes from the Bible, but mostly the blue is the Pacific. The Pacific collects and shares all that we know about ourselves. In that period of cloud paintings I incorporated Niue creation stories, islands, the ocean (especially crossing the Pacific going to Niue or from elsewhere to Aotearoa).

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Exhibition

Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania

Experience the Gallery’s collection from the perspective of our place in Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean.

Collection
Te Whare o Rangiora (Chair)

Neil Pardington Te Whare o Rangiora (Chair)

Neil Pardington photographed this chair in a long-abandoned psychiatric hospital in Porirua while he was looking for locations for a short film. This is one of a number of photographs the artist has taken capturing strange and soulless places in which personal and significant life events are processed. In this image, time stands still and you can sense the institutional boredom, confinement and frustration pressing in. Pardington likened the kōwhaiwhai patterns drawn in marker pen on the chair arms to “a cry for help from within an asylum with no spiritual hope of any kind”. However, they could also be read as a wilful insertion of cultural values and meaning, a defiant visual protest against the banal hospital interior.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
'etu iti

Ani O'Neill 'etu iti

“Though people may not see my work as political – it is. I want to re-ignite something inside the viewer that they may have forgotten existed; the ‘Pacific Island way’ of creating the world.” —Ani O’Neill In Cook Islands Māori, 'etu iti means ‘little stars’. This work was inspired by sacred objects from Oceania that are usually never seen or touched: bundles of fine sticks bound with feathers collected from Hawai'i long ago and now held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, England. It was created for an exhibition in which artists responded to the museum’s collections. Interested in “passing on the flame to light new paths”, Ani O’Neill worked with the help of local school children. She often works collaboratively, empowering people through art making. Through this process she upholds Polynesian values, using her work to foster a sense of community rather than elitism. She also chooses everyday materials, and by elevating their status she challenges the western hierarchy of materials and art forms.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Lick

Angela Tiatia Lick

With Lick, Angela Tiatia presents a balancing act between resistance and vulnerability. Filmed in Tuvalu, a South Pacific nation endangered by rising sea levels because of global warming, it shows how environmental, political and cultural issues can intersect.Because of the actions (and inaction) of much larger nations, Tuvaluans face losing their homeland and irreplaceable aspects of their culture within the next fifty years. As Tiatia fights to hold her position on a small piece of coral, we glimpse her malu – a traditional leg tattoo and adornment specific to Samoan women – through the shifting water. Associated with cultural responsibilities, sheltering and protection, the malu emphasises both Tiatia’s Oceanic heritage and the need to protect its people and their way of life.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Collection
Sex Trade, Gift for Banks, Dancing Lovers, Sextant Lesson (18550) (19205)

Lisa Reihana Sex Trade, Gift for Banks, Dancing Lovers, Sextant Lesson (18550) (19205)

In 2008 Lisa Reihana was visiting Sydney where, by chance, she saw an exhibition of a French neo-classical wallpaper that had been printed almost exactly two hundred years earlier, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (savages of the Pacific Ocean). It depicted the explorations of Captain James Cook in twenty panels. The exhibition label, recalled Reihana, “said how it was about the people of the Pacific. I could not see it. I thought that the piece itself was a marvel, but I just couldn’t see the Pacific in it at all.”Inspired by Les Sauvages, in 2015 Reihana made In Pursuit of Venus [infected], a 26-metre panoramic video in which vignettes of Pasifika, Aboriginal, Pākehā and Māori characters are superimposed over the idyllic Pacific landscapes imagined two centuries ago on the other side of the world. Reihana’s narratives of sexual violence, trade, dance, exploration, misunderstandings, conflict and violent incidents challenge colonial stereotypes, giving agency to indigenous peoples and adding nuance to colonial histories. “I hope that as a viewer you’re always trying to work out what exactly is going on in this work”, says Reihana. “Just like these historical figures would have. When you suddenly meet new people and new things are happening, you have to decipher and make sense of the world yourself. There will always be lots of misunderstanding – layers of misunderstanding.” This work is a panoramic photographic print derived from In Pursuit of Venus [infected]. It combines different interactions between English sailors and Pasifika peoples. While Cook’s botanist Joseph Banks – who gave his name to Banks Peninsula – takes a chief’s wife to his tent, two sailors approach some seated Tahitian women. One of the sailors coughs and spits blood on the ground. They smile and hold up two spike nails as a suggested trade...

(We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019)

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