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Māori Women Artists feature at Hastings City Art Gallery

Press Release – Hastings District Council

Local playwright Puti Lancaster has spent much of her summer working on a new performance piece based on stories and histories of the women of Heretaunga. River Seeds will be performed at Hastings City Art Gallery on February 6 and 7.Māori Women Artists feature at Hastings City Art Gallery

Local playwright Puti Lancaster has spent much of her summer working on a new performance piece based on stories and histories of the women of Heretaunga. River Seeds will be performed at Hastings City Art Gallery on February 6 and 7.

The live theatre will complement two powerful new exhibitions being installed at the gallery to commemorate the 176th signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Emily Karaka’s work Settlement and a group exhibition entitled Waitangi Wahine consider tino rangatiratanga and what it means post-treaty.

Lancaster’s performance piece explores what sovereignty has meant to women from past and present generations from Heretaunga. She has interviewed three generations of women and interpreted their experiences and encounters with the Treaty of Waitangi. “It has been interesting the way that women bring their individual voice forward; it is often very indirect and the challenge is to configure that in a way that audiences can relate to,” Lancaster says.

Multi-media exhibition Waitangi Wahine features five Mana Wahine artists, all with reputations for pushing boundaries: Robyn Kahukiwa, Linda Munn, Suzanne Tamaki, Tracey Tawhiao and Andrea Hopkins.

Waitangi Wahine curator Chriss Doherty-McGregor from Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre (Upper Hutt) says the exhibition is very provocative and showcases some of the most reputable Māori woman artists in New Zealand. “Essentially this group of work is in response to the impact of the Treaty and its effect on Maori today. It makes you think about the treaty and what it means, and what it has meant for us a nation, both Māori and Pakeha. Together the artists featured here provide political statements on this debate, on the significance and status of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s founding document and the intention, spirit or principles of the Treaty.”

Painter Emily Karaka’s expressionist style is characterised by vibrant colour and heavily applied paint. She has focused on humanitarian and environmental issues, notably the Treaty of Waitangi. Passionate, expressive, gritty, challenging, simultaneously celebratory and confrontational – these are words that often describe her work.

In recent years Karaka’s paintings have become less overt in her political message and more optimistic, reflecting the vitality of Maori contemporary society, which she describes as “our new dawn”. While the work still deals with issues such as loss of language, disempowerment and land loss, the outlook is more confident and the approach more considered, with a focus on reviving and maintaining matauranga Maori [Maori knowledge systems].

Waitangi Wahine and Settlement will open on January 30, and remain in the gallery until 3 April; River Seeds will be performed in the gallery, once on February 6 at 6.30pm, and twice on February 7, 2.30pm and 6.30pm. Tickets are ‘pay what you like at the end of the performance’, but as spaces are limited please book by phone on 871 5095, or email hastingsartgallery@hdc.govt.nz.

Events

Artist’s Floor Talk – Emily Karaka

11am, Saturday 6 February

Mana Wahine artists

Robyn Kahukiwa (Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngati Hau, Ngati Konohi, Whanau a Ruatapere) is based in Kapiti, and is New Zealand’s foremost Māori women artists. A staunch supporter of Māori rights and the power and prestige of Māori women, she has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for over four decades. She is recognised as an art icon and role model, a leading voice in contemporary Māori art and an international leader in indigenous art. Through her work Kahukiwa has established strong connections between art and politics and has done much to raise awareness of contemporary Māori art on the world stage. One of her works which features in the exhibition

Linda Munn (Nga Puhi, Ngai te Rangi, Te Atiawa, Ngai Tahu) has been involved in protest art since the 1980’s, when art became a media used to comment on current issues. In 1989 she collaborated with two other Whangarei mums in one of their kitchens to design the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, which has been acknowledged as a symbol of Māori sovereignty and used in protest marches and demonstrations throughout New Zealand. The flag features in much of the work in the exhibition.

Suzanne Tamaki’s (Maniapoto, Tuhoe, Te Arawa) large scale photographs also feature using provocative fashion photography to agitate discussions about colonisation, with wāhine-toa (women of strength) featuring prominently. Tamaki was one of the founding members of the Pacific Sisters fashion collective in the mid 90’s participating in various multimedia fashion shows including the 12th Sydney Biennale and the South Pacific Festival of the Arts in Samoa, Palau and Pagopago. Her work is exhibited and collected extensively throughout New Zealand and the Pacific.

Tracey Tawhiao (Ngai te Rangi, Whakatohea, Tuwharetoa) is a writer, performance poet, filmmaker, qualified lawyer and leading Mvori artist based in Auckland. Her artworks are made from newspaper where Tawhiao uses Māori symbols and motifs to ‘rewrite’ and recreate news stories from an alternative, Māori perspective. By obscuring certain words in a headline or passages of an article, and layering sheet of newspaper she changes the focus of each news item and changes the often negative editorial slant.

Andrea Hopkins is one of Northland’s leading contemporary painters. She is known nationally and internationally for her work which blends cultural semiotics with surreal landscapes. Of Māori, New Zealand and Welsh decent Hopkins is influenced by the Māori concepts of wairua/spiritual, hinengaro/emotional, whanau/family and tangata/the physical being. Her practice involves taking everyday identities and Māori motifs and places them against delicately brushed landscapes conveying messages of duality and strength.

Funding was received from the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Waitangi fund with touring support by Creative New Zealand.

Settlement: Emily Karaka

Emily Karaka was born in Auckland in 1952 where she continues to live and work. She belongs to the Tamaki Makaurau hapu (sub-tribe) of Ngai Tai. Karaka has exhibited regularly since 1980 and cites artists Colin McCahon, Philip Clairmont, Allen Maddox, Ralph Hotere and Tony Fomison among her mentors. Karaka is a well-known land claims activist, and is respected as a strong force in the Māori art movement of the 1980s.

Emily Karaka’s exhibition Settlement explores the Crown’s settlement process, old land claims and Turton Deeds transactions which alienated lands and islands from the Tribes of Tamaki. As a descendant of Kiwi Tamaki (who resided on many of the volcanic cones in Tamaki) and a descendant of the Ngai Tai Rangatira Nuku (who participated in land sales deeds and signed Te Tiriti O Waitangi at Karaka Bay in Auckland in 1840), the artist confirms: Ka Mau Mahara – we will remember.

Waitangi Wahine and Settlement: Emily Karaka will run until Sunday 3 April 2016 and entry is FREE.

Hastings City Art Gallery is open daily 10am – 4.30pm. Free entry.

201 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings

ENDS

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