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Turia: Launch of 'The Art of Robyn Kahukiwa'

Launch of 'The Art of Robyn Kahukiwa'

Bowen galleries; Wellington; Wednesday 19 October 2005; 6pm

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

I have, on a number of occasions been asked by Robyn to either open an exhibition of her art as I have done in the past, visit a gallery where her art is being shown, and I have done that too, or, as she has done on this occasion, asked that I launch her book.

Each time she has done this, she has been somewhat apologetic as she was on this occasion when she emailed and asked and I quote “I don’t know if you will have time to launch my book….”

Robyn for you, there will always be time.

There will always be time, because you have always taken the time through your art, your words and your deeds to promote those things which are dear to many of us as indigenous people, as tangata whenua, as Maori women, as mothers, as grandmothers and as members of whanau and hapu.

There will always be time for someone whose art has always been about time and about space.

About the time you withdrew from involvement in the New Zealand Women Artists Picture Book, because of an affront to Maori women;

about the time you declined an opportunity to go to New Caledonia because of French colonial treatment of the Kanakies and the nuclear testing at Mururoa;

about the times you have depicted oppression;

about the times you have celebrated birth, life and death;

about the time you visited the occupation at Pakaitore in Whanganui to support my people;

about the time you portrayed that site of resistance in the paintings, following your visit.

Yes Robyn, it is now the time, that I, who occupies a space in the house which you referred to in one of those paintings, as the “House the Crown Built”, give back to you what you have so selflessly given to many others - time and the space to create.

Now is the time for us in the Maori Party to demonstrate in the “House the Crown Built” what you through your art have demonstrated - those precious gifts of being creative, free and independent.

Free and independent enough to, like you, be true to our dreams.

Tu motuhake is the term we use.

Free and independent enough to fill the house with the beauty of Maori oratory, rich with Maori metaphor and symbolism, as your art is rich with metaphor and symbolism.

As a whakapapa of belief systems and creative ancestors has no doubt motivated you and your art, we in turn as the representatives of our people are motivated to paint, carve and weave new political landscapes and new political images of which our people will be proud.

They will rejoice in these new political paintings, carvings and whariki as they indeed are the artists and we the politicians merely hold the brushes and the chisels.

You have always exercised the freedom to maintain as you have said “the continuum of positive Maori identity, celebrating tikanga Maori, re-affirming and giving form to history and whakapapa”. We intend to do likewise.

Having followed you through your art Robyn;

having looked at how you have depicted our past, our present and our future;

having seen how the Treaty of Waitangi is never far from the canvas, the brush and the easel;

having seen how relationships, Maori/Pakeha, Male/Female, mother/child, insider/outsider are depicted in your art

having seen how you continue to relate to an international indigenous context I wonder whether you would ever consider becoming a Foreign Affairs advisor for the Maori Party (might give Winston a hand!!)

Robyn you have occupied a space in our national artistic psyche into which many have been drawn, a space filled with the creativity which recognises time just is.

And so ladies and gentlemen the time has come (as I have occupied this podium space for long enough) for me to officially launch this most impressive work of art simply called “The Art Of Robyn Kahukiwa”.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

ENDS

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