AUCKLAND.- Auckland Art Gallery presents the exhibition Tūruki Tūruki! Paneke Paneke! When Māori Art Became Contemporary, on show until 24 August, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first exhibition of contemporary Māori art in Auckland.
In 1958, mentor and educator, Matiu Te Hau curated an exhibition held at the University of Auckland that featured the paintings, sculpture and ceramics of five Northland teachers.
The artists were Arnold Manaaki Wilson, Ralph Hotere, Muru Walters, Katerina Mataira and the late Selwyn Wilson.
Now 50 years on, in recognition of the significance of the original exhibition, Auckland Art Gallery curator Ngahiraka Mason has mounted Tūruki Tūruki! Paneke Paneke!, an exhibition that showcases some art work from the original display and others from the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The original exhibition captured the mood of the 1950s and drew attention away from Māori art displayed in museums and redirected that focus to another kind of Māori art, says Mason.
These were heady times of change and social reform and the artists were innovating and experimenting as teachers, visual artists and crafts people. I believe these artists were the founders of the contemporary visual Māori art culture that we have today.
The exhibition title, drawn from a chant that kept paddlers to a constant beat and sung as part of the formal mihi on the marae, acknowledges the mana of the artists for their role in advancing and moving Māori art into the imagination of both Māori and Pākehā.
Background: Arnold Manaaki Wilson (Ngai Tūhoe, Ngāti Tarawhai) and Ralph Hotere (Te Aupōuri) are fulltime practicing artists. Katerina Mataira (Ngāti Porou) is a writer. Selwyn Wilson (Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Hine), now deceased, remained a painter, ceramicist and teacher. Muru Walters (Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa) continues to work in both art and education and is an Anglican bishop.