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Queen’s Birthday Honour for Te Papa’s Leading Art Scholar

Queen’s Birthday Honour for Te Papa’s Leading Art Scholar

Te Papa congratulates Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Head of Arts & Visual Culture at New Zealand’s national museum, on his appointment as Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM).

In acknowledgement of receiving the honour, Professor Mane-Wheoki, CNZM, says, “The CNZM award acknowledges the significance of the arts in our lives. I pay tribute to all the creative artists, art historians, curators and museum professionals, and aficionados who have been so important throughout my long life. Without them I would have amounted to As one of New Zealand’s leading scholars, researchers and practitioners of Māori art, Professor Mane-Wheoki has had a significant impact on Te Papa, and its role as the guardian of the national art collection.

He first joined Te Papa in 2004 as the Director of Art
and Collection Services, and immediately set about developing a strategic framework for art at Te Papa and ensuring the national collection be given more prominence. This resulted in Toi Te Papa Art of a Nation, an exhibition that acknowledged Te Papa had a unique story to tell about art in New Zealand, with a collection spanning taonga of pre-European settlement through to the most contemporary responses.

As an Honorary Research Associate from 2012, and on his return in 2013 as Head of Arts and Visual Culture, Professor Mane-Wheoki has continued to affirm Te Papa’s position as a leading cultural and arts institution not only in New Zealand, but also in the international

He has been responsible for some of Te Papa’s most significant and successful international art exhibitions, including Monet and the Impressionists, Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky and Holbein to Hockney: Drawings from the Royal Collection. Since his return, he has provided research and professional leadership to the curatorial team of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, Te Papa’s most recent art show based on regular seasonal changes that enable the Museum to showcase more of the national art collection, more often.

It is rare for someone to have Professor Mane-Wheoki’s mix of in-depth knowledge of Mātauranga Māori coupled with a deep understanding of international art history and its movements. This has enabled him, more than any other art historian or curator in the country, to place New Zealand and Māori art within a worldwide context. His unique understanding and perspective speaks to Te Papa’s commitment to biculturalism.

Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū, says, “As a professional, Jonathan carries great mana, and he shares his knowledge willingly and freely. As a mentor, Jonathan’s expertise and wisdom has inspired numerous colleagues, young art curators, art historians, artists, and students. He is enormously respected by his colleagues, and has been pivotal to Te Papa telling the story of the true richness and breadth of New Zealand’s art heritage. His long standing commitment and passion to Māori art history has been exemplary and his recent Marsden Research project ‘Toi Te Mana: A history of indigenous art from Aotearoa New Zealand’ is a further testimony to that.”

Professor Mane-Wheoki’s lifetime commitment to the arts in New Zealand has created an enduring legacy through his work as an educator and advocate, through his pioneering commitment to art scholarship, and through his promotion of Māori art and artists. He has consistently paved the way for others to demonstrate and develop their own leadership, and has created opportunities for many to excel in their chosen fields. His work has made an indisputable difference for many Māori artists; and how their work is received, understood
and appreciated.

His willingness to share his knowledge and time is evidenced in the large number of advisory roles he holds, and the range of projects he has been involved with. He has impacted on generations of New Zealanders through his explorations into international art history, New Zealand art history, Māori art, and architecture. His inclusive view and approach has ensured that these topics continue to reach new audiences.

“The Board acknowledge that as Te Papa’s Head of Arts & Visual Culture, Jonathan has been responsible for providing dynamic and strategic leadership; setting the intellectual direction for Te Papa’s art programme, leading collection development and building curatorial capability in this field. He has reinvigorated Te Papa’s approach to art, and encouraged fresh thinking to enable Te Papa to showcase and share more art in new and inspiring ways,” says Evan Williams, Te Papa’s Board Chairman.

Professor Mane-Wheoki has served on a wide range of national and international bodies, including the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, New Zealand Venice Biennale Selection Panels, the Humanities Panel and Council of the Marsden Fund, the Council and Humanities and Social Sciences Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Advisory Council of the (Renzo Piano-designed) Centre Culturel Tjibaou in Noumea.

His service to the arts communities began in 1962 with his appointment to the Auckland Arts Festival Executive. He is currently a governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and a member of the Board of the Auckland Philharmonia, the Maori Advisory Panel of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre, Haerewa (the Maori Advisory Committee) of the Auckland Art Gallery, the Programmes Committee of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. He is also an
Honorary Life member of the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Friends of Te Papa, and a patron of the Auckland Theatre Company.

In 2012, Professor Mane-Wheoki was awarded the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the Humanities”, and he has also been the recipient of a Marsden Fund Grant for a research project on Māori art history. In 2008, the University of Canterbury awarded him an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his longstanding work exploring and promoting contemporary Māori art.


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