Te Hau Whakatonu | A Series of Never-Ending Beginnings

05 Aug 2023 - 11 Feb 2024

A landmark survey exhibition of Toi Māori from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection.

He karahuinga pūkenga, rima tekau tau te pakeke, ā, ko tā Te Hau Whakatonu he whakaū, he whakatiketike hoki i ngā pūkenga auaha rau o te iwi Māori.

Koinei te whakaaturanga tuatahi e whakamana ana i te whakaaturanga o ngā toi Māori nō roto mai i te kohikohinga o Govett-Brewster. Neke atu i te 900 katoa te maha o ngā taonga, e ono tekau mā rima noa iho ngā taonga i auahatia e ngā ringatoi rua tekau mā rua, ā, ko te nuinga e whakaaturia ana i tēnei whakaaturanga.

Mā te whakarauika i ngā taonga Māori, e whakahau ana te whakaaturanga nei i ngā hanga whakaaro ōrite, arā, he whakapapa tō hēnei taonga katoa; te manawaroa, te mouri hoki ka ora i roto i ngā tohu a te Māori ka heke tonu ki ia uki, ka paheko, ka whenumi ki tō rātou auahatanga.

Huhua noa atu ngā kurahuna, ngā kōrero hītori, ngā whakamāramatanga e whakaputuputu ana, e whakatuputupu ana i te rere o te wā me te whai hononga hoki. Ko te ingoa tuarua, e kīia ana ko A Series of Never-Ending Beginnings i hua mai i ngā kupu o te waha o te hautupua rā, a Moana Jackson, hei whakamārama i te whakapapa me tōna motuhaketanga i roto i ngā kōrero pūrākau me te mātau hoki o te tuku ihotanga. He kīanga e whakaahua ana i te māramatanga ki te huringa o te wā, me te kotahi tonu o te wā hipa, te wā tū me te wā heke i tēnei wā tonu. Ko tā George Watson, o ngā iwi o Ngāti Mutunga rātou ko Ngāti Porou, ko Moriori, me tā Ngahina Hohaia, o ngā iwi o Taranaki rātou ko Ngāti Moeahu, ko Ngāti Haupoto, me Parihaka Papa Kāinga hoki, he urupare atu i tēnei whakarauikatanga taonga ki ngā taonga hōu. Kei te matapihi o waho tā Watson tāreitanga e pūkana mai ana ki te whakaatu i te ihi o te whakarauora ahurea hāunga ngā toimahatanga. Ko tā Ngahina Hohaia taonga e iri ana i rō te whare, e kīia ana ko He Ara Uru Ora, arā, he whakatinanatanga kōrero tuku iho—ko te tuku ihotanga o ngā kupu ka mahara tonu i ngā uki—he whakaū i ngā here ki te whenua, ki te kaha o te kotahitanga, ngā tohe o mua me ngā tūmanako nui mō te anamata.

Ka whakatairangitia e Te Hau Whakatonu ngā toi Māori o te kohikohinga, me te raranga hoki i ngā taonga katoa ki tētehi whāriki hei whakatakoto i te ara hōu mo ngā hōtaka toi Māori i Te Whare Pīataata.

Spanning more than 50 years of practice, Te Hau Whakatonu affirms and celebrates the diversity of Māori creative expression.

This exhibition is the first dedicated showcase of Māori art from the Govett-Brewster collection. Consisting of over 900 artworks, the collection comprises 65 works by 22 Māori artists, many of which are shown in this exhibition.

In bringing together the holdings of Māori art, this exhibition considers that the artists represented here share a world-view and that their works are part of a whakapapa (genealogy); the unceasing vital essence of Māori cultural expression that successive generations will continue to draw from and make their own contributions to.

Every artwork holds multiple narratives and histories, their meanings forever expanding and growing in time and association. The exhibition sub-title, A Series of Never-Ending Beginnings is a phrase used by Māori rights advocate and leader Moana Jackson to describe whakapapa and the importance of storytelling in a Māori intellectual tradition. It is a phrase that reflects a cyclical understanding of time and being in which the past and future are always present. George Watson (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Porou, Moriori) and Ngahina Hohaia (Taranaki, Parihaka, Ngāti Moeahu, Ngāti Haupoto) have respond to this gathering of works with new commissions. Watson’s works in the exterior Open Window speak to ‘the strength of cultural revitalisation in the face of many challenges’. While inside Ngahina Hohaia’s monumental installation He Ara Uru Ora is a visual manifestation of ngā kōrero tuku iho—words remembered and handed down over generations—that assert connection to place, collective strength, past resistance and hope for the future.

Te Hau Whakatonu elevates the Māori art in the collection, weaving works into a dynamic web of relations that sets a foundation for a renewed forward focus for Māori art programming at the Govett-Brewster.

Whaiwhakaaro Series 

Connected to Te Hau Whakatonu, the whaiwhakaaro programme offers speakers and audience to have a storied participation in and exploration of the mātauranga Māori that exists within and between works. 

Whaiwhakaaro literally means to follow the thought…to seek knowledge was to follow thought wherever it took you…whatever the immediate enlightenment might be…’

– Moana Jackson

Thu 19 Oct 2023 | 6pm | Ana Iti and Mako Jones

Thu 09 Nov 2023 | 6pm | Colleen Tuuta and Jay Ruka

Thu 25 Jan 2023 | 6pm | Ngāneko Eriwata and Vallance Wrathall