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Maori Art Meets 20,000 Adoring Americans

16 August 2005

Maori Art Meets 20,000 Adoring Americans

Maori Art Meets America: A journey about making connections - hongi between Waha Tauhara (Northland) and a Native American Ohlone tribesperson at the dawn Waka Ceremony on August 4th 2005 in San Francisco. Credit: Edward Casati

Toi Maori Aotearoa (Maori Arts New Zealand) is celebrating - over 20,000 people have seen the exhibition Toi Maori: Art from the Maori people of New Zealand in San Francisco. The exhibition welcomed its 20,000th visitor, Belva Davis, at 2.37 pm on Sunday August 14, the exhibition’s final day at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

“The community of San Francisco is in love with this exhibition”, said Belva after she had seen the exhibition today. “It is sad that this hasn't happened earlier - I am enthralled by the special energy created and the beauty of the works on display" she said.

John E. Dow, Toi Maori Aotearoa Project Manager, has been amazed by the response of the American public.

"The final weekend has seen people driving from up to 8 hours away specifically to see the 'Toi Maori: Art from the Maori People of New Zealand' exhibition and pushed total attendance figures over the 20,000 mark on the last afternoon," John E. Dow said yesterday.

"The media interest also continues with television interviews still being conducted at the venue and an invitation for Toi Maori General Manager Garry Nicholas to appear on a live talkback show on Channel 7 on the exhibition’s final day. Exit surveys undertaken by Tourism New Zealand have been overwhelmingly positive - some visitors have even handed money to security staff in appreciation of the experience."

"San Francisco has totally embraced all elements of the project with the Waka arrival at Aquatic Park on August 4th setting the scene and stimulating an interest and enthusiasm that has flowed through the whole community resulting in such high levels of participation and satisfaction," said John E. Dow.

Karakia marked the closing ceremony of the exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as the Ohlone representatives and Maori artists walked through the exhibition space together.

The delegation of Maori artists and dignitaries have returned home to New Zealand after an incredible experience in America. Te Aho Mutunga Kore - The Eternal Thread component of the exhibition, will continue the first international tour of weaving in Salem City, Oregon, Seattle, Washington and Warm Springs, Oregon. The exhibition will return home to New Zealand 2007.


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