Content created in partnership with Viaduct Harbour
As a nation of newly minted amateur-astronomers, many of us are still buzzing from the joy of Matariki as we ease into the Māori New Year. If you’re still itching for things to look at now that the early-morning glimpses of Matariki are winding down, there’s good news for your eyeballs with a stunning show from six Māori artists open now in Viaduct Harbour, until July 17.
HIWA takes its name from Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the star of Matariki that represents prosperity and the future. Curated by Tuhirangi Blair (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei), of ultra-cool fashion brand Lucky Dip, HIWA is named for “the beacon that encourages us to step into the unknown and motivates us to go forward.”
Blair set up the exhibition space to “focus on hope and preparation in reference to the star and showcase some of the most promising Māori artists in Aotearoa.” The artists on show are displaying more than promise though – these are assured young creators who have most definitely arrived.
Calling it a ‘pop-up’ gallery space seems almost too dismissive of the purpose-built structure which is clad in illuminated panels that glow in the winter evenings. Made up of two containers (connected by a middle walk through) the space was built in situ, taking pride of place in the Viaduct’s Market Square.
Within this glowing box is a collection of art that blends old and new practices, and modern art that uses traditional methods to display ancient connections to whenua, new paths by which to explore whakapapa, explorations of Mātauranga Māori and new ways to connect to tīpuna.
Ashleigh Taupaki (Ngāti Hako) came to be part of the exhibition through her tuakana, Ngahuia Harrison from Elam. Taupaki was able to watch the space be built before her very eyes as she turned up early to watch the construction be finished and her art hung, everything sliding into place in quick succession.
Taupaki takes rocks from known and loved places, turns them into pigment and then rubs them onto paper. The results resemble a colour swatch used for a house reno or maybe in the nail salon, but rather than bougie references to consumer choice, these swatches tell the story of the whenua and the waters of Ngāti Hako.
Through her art, Taupaki is displaying that within these freshwater systems are nodes that inform one another. “The left-most column of my pigment swatches is the Ohinemuri River, and the right is Tīkapa Moana. At the centre are pigments collected from the wetlands in between that become the intermediary for fresh and salt water.
“My HIWA hopes are for improved public perception on wetlands, and indigenous freshwater governance. It is also an opportunity to plug the history and continuity of my people in the area who have maintained a stable settlement within the wetlands, as evidenced in the map of pā sites, and related text screen print.”
The highlights of the show for Taupaki have all been drawn from the feeling of being part of a collective.
“I remember having a chat with [fellow artists] Atareta [Black] and Te Ara [Minhinnick] saying that our works would look beautiful and balanced together, and that’s exactly how it turned out. And it was great to have work by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei parallel to ours, reminding us of the diverse practices here and in our own homelands.”
This stunning glowing whare and its seamless blending of traditional and modern art is open until Sunday, July 17. HIWA is free, fully accessible and open to the public daily 7am–7pm (9pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday) Featuring artists: Yonel Watene, Maraea Shaw, Ashleigh Taupaki, Te Ara Minhinnick, Atareta Black and the Te Puawai weaving collective (Ngāti Whātua).