Māori artists initiate conversation through creative protest

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The 'NATIVE VOICES: Ko Au, Ko Mātau' exhibition at Tairawhiti museum is providing a platform for indigenous dialogue through art, responding to and challenging the commemoration of the arrival of Captain Cook.

Curator Katerina Kerekere says the aim is to, “Provide an open and undiluted canvas for the artist to respond to the upcoming 250th commemorations, and the impacts of those encounters, AKA invasions a lot of us call them”.

Through their work, the artists are reinforcing their narrative as tangata whenua.

“What a lot of the artists wanted to do is tell our native histories our kōrero long before those arrivals of European,” says Katerina Kerekere.

The exhibition also aims to remind people of the impact of the Nation's dual-heritage on the current reality for Māori now, and their future.

“All the artists here have quite different perspectives, and that's good we respect all of our kōrero our ideas and opinions and we wanted the artist to say what they wanted to say not to be led or directed by anyone,” says Kerekere.

The works feature a range of mediums from traditional to contemporary.

Katerina Kerekere says, “As far as offering a contribution to the discussion I think it's quite important we've got some major works here from painters, kaihaka uku, raranga, whakairo, fine metal adornments, right 'till contemporary digital installations”.

Supported by KE Design, Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, Toi Hauiti and Tairāwhiti Museum, it's a real community effort.

Over 40 works from over 40 artists will be displayed.

“It's quite important from all of that realm from art forms that we have been passed down from our nannies our papas, and to interpreting that kōrero into digital new mediums,” says Kerekere.

The exhibition also received funding from Tuia Encounters 250 lotteries fund for a workshop and the exhibition booklet.

The exhibition opens at 4PM on Sunday.