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Ngahina Hohaia: Roimata Toroa

30 November 2007

Ngahina Hohaia: Roimata Toroa

15 December 2007 – 2 March 2008

The compelling and symbolically rich work Roimata Toroa brings the narratives of Parihaka to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery this summer.

Opening 15 December, Roimata Toroa is an installation by Taranaki-born artist Ngahina Hohaia (Ngati Moeahu, Ngati Haupoto).

Her fibre sculpture fills the gallery wall with 392 individual poi embroidered with symbols that tell the story of the Parihaka community’s passive resistance against invasion by Government troops in the later part of the nineteenth century. One of these symbols is Roimata Toroa (the tears of the albatross), the three albatross feathers which represent the Parihaka movement itself.

Roimata Toroa is one of the Govett-Brewster’s newest acquisitions and Director Rhana Devenport says it is an honour to welcome this work into the Gallery’s collection.

“It is possibly one of the most significant works of recent times which deals specifically with a powerful historical moment in the history of Maori. It is a profoundly sensitive and complex work by a contemporary Taranaki artist with a strong future,” she says.

Hohaia’s installation embraces the tradition of Poi Manu associated with Taranaki iwi. This ceremonial application of poi combines the recitation of whakapapa (genealogy) and karakia (ritual incantation) with the movement and rhythm of poi. The poi becomes the Manu – the messenger, or story-teller.

Featured throughout the installation are poi bearing fragments of a speech delivered by Tohu Kaakahi, one of the leaders of the Parihaka movement, in 1895.

In Roimata Toroa, the woollen poi become a tribute to the strength and resilience of the Parihaka movement, and to the continued global relevance of the messages of Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kaakahi.

The poi themselves are made from New Zealand wool blankets, products of the New Zealand agricultural economy built on Maori land. The blanket acts as a metaphor for the historical imbalance of wealth and power on this land.

Presented for the first time at the Govett-Brewster since its acquisition, this exhibition of Roimata Toroa is timed to coincide with the Parihaka Peace Festival, which takes place 11 to 13 January 2008.

Hohaia’s practice embraces media from sculpture though to jewellery and adornment. Her work has been included in exhibitions throughout Aotearoa New Zealand including most recently in 2007 at Aveia Gallery, Auckland, Pataka Gallery, Porirua and Expressions Art and Events Centre, Upper Hutt. She is currently completing a Master of Visual Arts at Massey University and was this year a recipient of a Te Waka Toi Maori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand scholarship.

The Govett-Brewster collection retains an ongoing focus on contemporary work by artists from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Rim. Other recent acquisitions include works by Lin Tianmiao, Anne Noble, Rohan Wealleans and Ben Cauchi.

A varied programme of public events including talks and family workshops accompany the exhibition Roimata Toroa, full details are at

In the presentation of this exhibition the Govett-Brewster acknowledges the ongoing support of Radio Network Taranaki and Aalto Colour. Ngahina Hohaia also acknowledges Professor Robert Jahnke, Head of Maori Studies at Massey University for his ongoing support, encouragement and tutorship.

Also showing:

Len Lye: Five Fountains and a Firebush

7 December 2007– 24 February 2008

Terry Urbahn: The Sacred Hart

8 December 2007 – 2 March 2008

Paintings from remote communities: Indigenous Australian art from The Laverty Collection, Sydney

15 December 2007 –24 February 2008


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