Regional | Art

A showcase for Māori art and its place in the Pacific

A new exhibition which opened at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on Saturday explores the art of Aotearoa, locating it within Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the wider Pacific region.

Comprised of works from the Gallery’s extensive New Zealand art collection, Taimoana | Coastlines: Art in Aotearoa takes the theme of the coast to explore multiple perspectives on New Zealand art.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Gallery Director, Kirsten Lacy says, “As Winter approaches, the Gallery’s programme is proudly focused on the art and artists of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific in a suite of new exhibitions opening across all floors of the building.

“The first to open is an entirely new collection exhibition on the ground floor titled Taimoana | Coastlines.”

“This new presentation from the Gallery’s collection showcases major holdings of historical, modern and contemporary New Zealand art.”

“We’re delighted all visitors can now enjoy a new experience of the Gallery’s treasured collection of New Zealand art and important stories and culture from the nation,” says Lacy.

The exhibition, which includes art from the 18th century to the present, has been curated by Dr Sarah Farrar, Nathan Pōhio, Dr Jane Davidson-Ladd and Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua.

Farrar, the gallery’s head of curatorial and learning, points out: “The coast is central to the way of life of many in Aotearoa New Zealand and it has been throughout our entire history.

“It is integral to te ao Māori and has many purposes, from sustenance and employment, a route for travel, source of recreation and relaxation, inspiration, and conflict. More recently, it has also been impacted by the changing climate with sea-level rise and coastal erosion.”

Works on display include:

  • Te Ika a Maui, 1970, by Fred Graham — a painting depicting the pūrākau of Māui fishing up the North Island.
  • Pacific Air Journey, a large segment of the mural by Pat Hanly originally commissioned for Auckland Airport’s departure lounge in 1977, on public display again for the first time.
  • Fresh Eke (Eke Nui and Babies), 2003-04, a multicoloured crocheted octopus with more than 20 babies, by Ani O’Neill.
  • Watercolours by the Rev John Kinder documenting his travels along New Zealand’s coastline in the 1850s-70s.
  • More than 7m in length, a newly acquired sculpture by Chris Charteris, Te Ma (Fish Trap), 2014, comprises 8000-plus pairs of clam shells collected from the Coromandel Peninsula to reference traditional i-Kiribati fish traps.
  • A tiny oil painting by C.F. Goldie showing a kuia telling the story of the arrival of the Arawa canoe to her mokopuna.
  • Wild Waves, an oil-on-cardboard painting by A. Lois White, of three nude women frolicking in the sea, probably painted in 1943 during World War II.
  • Frederick Stack’s View of Auckland Harbour, New Zealand taken during the regatta of January 1862, documenting the race of waka taua (war canoes) during the Anniversary Day regatta.