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Exhibition to showcase contemporary Mâori art

16 August 2004

Exhibition to showcase contemporary Mâori art

Toi Mâori Aotearoa, in partnership with Wellington City Council, will host an exhibition showcasing contemporary Mâori artwork from 26 August to 4 September at Wellington’s Tinakori Gallery.

The exhibition, entitled Whenua – Born of the Land, is an exploration of the artists’ interpretation of the concept ‘whenua’. Whenua is the Mâori word for the placenta and for the land. The exhibition explores the concept of land not only as a provider of life but also as a living entity, an ancestor to whom people are bound through genealogy. It will feature artwork from leading Mâori artists including Lewis Gardiner, Roi Toia, Manos Nathan, Darcy Nicholas and many others.

Whenua – Born of the Land follows the overwhelming success of the Kiwa – Pacific Connections exhibition of contemporary Mâori art staged by Toi Mâori Aotearoa at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver, Canada, in September 2003.

The Kiwa exhibition generated extraordinary interest from media and buyers throughout Canada and the United States, selling $1 million worth of art. Sixty-five percent of the artwork sold on the opening day, representing 75 percent of the total value of the exhibition.

General Manager of Toi Mâori Aotearoa, Garry Nicholas, said there was growing local and international demand for high-quality, contemporary Mâori art as collectors and corporate buyers began to identify with the powerful themes conveyed through Mâori artwork.

“Given the strong market for Mâori art, we’ve implemented a ‘Mâori Art to the World’ programme, which the Kiwa and now Whenua exhibitions are part of. Through this programme we’re continuing to develop and promote New Zealand’s unique cultural identity to the international marketplace,” Mr Nicholas said.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said the Council had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toi Mâori Aotearoa and was supporting Whenua and other Toi Mâori Aotearoa initiatives as part of its Creative Wellington – Innovation Capital vision.

“The partnership brings huge potential in the area of international competitive advantage. Establishing the city as the leader of Maori art in New Zealand would allow the city to confidently claim that it was the best in the world for Maori art,” Mayor Prendergast said.

A Whenua – Born of the Land catalogue, detailing the works on exhibit and the artists, is now available from Toi Mâori Aotearoa. More information can also be found at

The Whenua – Born of the Land exhibition will be officially opened on Thursday 26 August at 10am at the Tinakori Gallery, 132 Featherston St, Wellington.


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