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Spotlight on trail-blazing women in Puke Ariki exhibition

From New Plymouth surfing star Paige Hareb to te reo Māori champion Hana Te Hemara, NPDC’s Puke Ariki’s latest exhibition honours extraordinary Taranaki women.

Hina: Celebrating Taranaki Women was curated by Puke Ariki’s four female heritage curators and commemorates the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

The exhibition features the stories of 11 Taranaki women from all walks of life, from Taranaki’s early history to the present. Alongside these 11 stories are a selection of women from our community who have responded with their own personal stories.

“Suffrage 125 is a wonderful opportunity to explore the positive progress New Zealand has made in women’s equality and to celebrate the diversity of experiences from women in our community,” says Puke Ariki Manager Kelvin Day.

As part of the exhibition Puke Ariki will host two events; the first is The Peace Project which will coincide with Suffrage 125 celebrations.

From 8 September visitors to the libraries are invited to write messages of peace and equality on doves made from recycled milk bottles. All of these messages will be included in artist Viv Davy’s installation that will take shape on the Puke Ariki air bridge from 20 September. This installation is inspired by the work of feminist, pacifist and environmentalist Elsie Andrews who is one of the 11 woman featured in the exhibition.

Later in the year, historian and award-winning author of A History of New Zealand Women, Barbara Brookes and the four Puke Ariki heritage curators behind Hina will explore the history of New Zealand women, through objects and artworks from the museum’s extensive collection. The presentation will encourage seeing New Zealand’s history through a female lens: from the points of view of wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts.

Hina opens in the Lane Gallery on 7 September and as well as the stories of the women there are a number of donated artefacts on display including a surfboard from Hareb and a kete from Puke Ariki’s taonga māori collection that was conserved by Rose Evans, one of the exhibitions respondents.

What is Hina?

• Hina is the name of a supreme female element, an atua (primary ancestor), that controls the moon.

• Across indigenous cultures the moon represents knowledge and human enlightenment.

• Hina (commonly known by Māori as Hine-te-iwaiwa) is the patroness of women and all their labours.

• She is a celestial being responsible for childbirth, tidal occurrences, weaving and the cycles of the moon.

Puke Ariki fact file • It first opened on 15 June 2003.

• The total number of visitors to Puke Ariki and district libraries in the 2016/17 year was 809,036.

• In that same period, Puke Ariki and community libraries issued 792,563 items.

• It is the world’s first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre.

• Puke Ariki has three long-term galleries (Takapou Whāriki, Taranaki Naturally and the Gallery of Taranaki Life) and components of these get changed out regularly.

• The temporary exhibition space shows touring exhibitions that are either curated in-house or brought in from other museums.

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