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Whangarei to Host New Zealand’s Premier Iwi Art Exhibition

Toi Ngāpuhi, New Zealand’s leading event in its category, showcases the best of Māori and Ngāpuhi traditional and contemporary arts and artists.

The event, which has steadily built momentum since its beginning in 2004 will achieve a record level of participation with over 80 emerging and established artists exhibiting their artwork.

Rhonda Halliday – lead exhibition curator is “excited that beautiful, high-quality art pieces will articulate the artists’ interpretation of the exhibition theme ‘ko au te wai, ko te wai ko au – I am the water, and the water is me’”.

Exhibition spokesperson BJ Natanahira says that “to ensure that the exhibition retains its premier status all artworks submitted undergo a stringent review process by a committee whose role is an exacting one, and who maintain the high standard of work accepting only “The best of the best.”

BJ highlights “the diversity and calibre” of emerging artists and first time exhibitors. Leonard Murupaenga is one such painter who has achieved significant recognition as an artist and promoter of the arts. In 2017 he was selected for one of three Māori internships offered by Toi Māori Aotearoa in partnership with Creative Northland.

Another first time exhibitor, is the highly regarded Te Aroha Te Paa, who has exhibited her work in America. Te Aroha’s work is in high demand, and up 'til this exhibition it’s been exclusively commission based. She has worked alongside established Far North artists Ross Gregory and Don Jack.

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A significant medium for Tai Tokerau is uku (clay). In the past this was not perceived as a traditional Māori material. Over the years, exhibition kaitiaki and profile artists, Manos Nathan and Collen Waata-Urlich challenged that perception and they achieved a far greater scope for artists to explore sculpture, and push the boundaries for this medium.

Profile established artists include clay specialists, Dorothy Waetford, Rhonda Halliday, Noelle Jakeman, Hera Johns and Davina Duke. BJ explains, “Our clay artists are really on the move nationally and internationally, they are rising to great heights.”

Other profile artists include Alex Nathan, one of New Zealand’s only Māori silversmiths, talented contemporary painter Andrea Hopkins, internationally renowned painter and teacher Theresa Reihana, formidable artist Victor Te Paa as well as celebrated carver and sculptor Will Ngakuru.”

“As a unique point of difference Tai Tokerau Māori Arts Collective are committed to following a pattern set by Te Atinga (a movement from Māori Arts New Zealand) to promote different platforms of expression. The inclusion of four taa moko artists actually working at their craft on the day is an intrinsic part of our response.” says BJ.

BJ and Rhonda are pleased to welcome attendees at this year’s Toi Ngāpuhi exhibition to a forum where “expressions of art move across mixed mediums and feature diverse applications. Many artists traverse boundaries and cross over between traditional and contemporary. They craft their work in diverse mediums both traditional and contemporary; such as uku, paint, print, fibre, glass, bone, silver, harakeke, pounamu, stone, wood and mixed media. You might, even have metals and glass and light as part of the artworks.”

There are many artists of distinction featured at this year’s exhibition. The prized exhibition catalogue showcases over 80 participants, telling their unique stories and providing a much anticipated narrative. This quality publication can be purchased at the exhibition.

For the first time in 2018 Toi Ngāpuhi will be held at Toll Stadium. Tai Tokerau Māori Arts Collective will be setting up the exhibition in an ideal space, which lends itself to artistic display, so their energies can be primarily focused on their curating role. This dedicated group of exhibiting artists will be present throughout Toi Ngāpuhi to interact and talk with visitors about their artwork, and their role in the progression of Māori arts in Taitokerau.

All the artworks displayed are available for purchase. As well as encouraging as many people as possible to attend, organisers look forward to welcoming a group of international buyers. Whangarei based artist and member of the organising committee Ida Edwards states “There is a group who book their holidays to New Zealand to coincide with the festival every two years in order to attend the exhibition to see the progression of certain artists they like to collect from.”

Toi Ngāpuhi is part of the wider Ngāpuhi Festival and entry is free. The event will be open to the public from (8:30am) Thursday 25 January through to (2:30pm) Sunday 28 January 2018.


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