'Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua - Redressing Our History', a major exhibition, will open in March 2017 as planned, says Aratoi Director Alice Hutchison, despite the announcement of cancellation last week due to funding cuts.
'We will not allow this development to undermine the mana and prestige either of this exhibition or the precious Gottfried Lindauer portraits of Wairarapa rangatira in the Aratoi collection about to be exhibited at the Auckland Art Gallery,' says Hutchison.
Significant additional funding has been secured to ensure the Iwi exhibition will proceed as planned, including major support from Wellington Regional Amenities Trust, Trust House, Eastern and Central Community Trust and the Friends of Aratoi.
Ian Perry, Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua Treaty Trust, says: 'The Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa exhibition is an important opportunity for Ngāti Kahungunu to inform and educate our whole community about why there is a need for a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, telling the related stories of loss and disenfranchisement, at the same time presenting an optimistic framework for the cultural and economic future of the region, following the signing of the Deed of Settlement in 2017 by Ngāti Kahungunu and the Crown. In addition to the Lindauer portraits, we are also in the process of seeking to loan taonga from private collections, national and regional institutions, and the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles. The taonga at the Fowler Museum is a wahaika, a form of carved patu or hand weapon, given to Lord Ranfurly in 1904 just prior to his departure to England at the end of his term as Governor General by the widow of the then late Tamahau Mahupuku of Papawai Marae, Greytown, the home of the Maori Parliament from 1897 to 1902.'
'Aratoi was built on voluntary support and community funding precisely to house the region's taonga, which is now, after decades, being threatened. The Ngati Kahungunu exhibition reflects our commitment to local Iwi, and indeed the Treaty of Waitangi.' It will be followed by an exhibition focused on Rangitane.
COLLECTION TO TRAVEL TO AUCKLAND
At the heart of the Aratoi collection is the original Lindauer portrait of Retimana Te Korou, which illustrates the close relationship between the Wairarapa community and Aratoi, says Hutchison: 'A monumental effort by the entire community was made in the 1970s to purchase this portrait - school children, pensioners, Wairarapa descendants and Iwi in Christchurch were all involved. This is now recognised as a landmark portrait of national significance, and one of the most prized artworks in the Aratoi collection.'
A reproduction of this portrait sits in the Masterton Lands Trust's office, a reminder of the long and fruitful relationship between Aratoi and LTM. Te Korou and Joseph Masters worked together to create Masterton.
As Chairperson of Ngati Te Korou, Huria Robens said today:
'Descendants of Te Korou remember the huge effort by the Wairarapa community who rallied together for months, both before and after the auction, to purchase the portrait of our ancestor nearly 40 years ago. There were a number of collectors from outside the area who had come to bid against the local community. When the hammer fell, we were elated that it was the Wairarapa community who had placed the winning bid for Te Korou. We are very pleased with the care and expertise, both from a conservation/museology perspective as well as a spiritual perspective shown to our ancestors' portrait over recent decades by the museum. We are also very excited about the upcoming iwi exhibitions, both Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane as Te Korou is connected to both Wairarapa tribes.'
The portrait of Te Korou is one of five portraits of Wairarapa rangatira that will travel to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki for the exhibition The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer's New Zealand (22 October 2016 -19 February 2017). The portrait will augment the major Lindauer exhibition that toured to the National Gallery in Berlin last year and subsequently was shown in Lindauer's hometown Pilsen, in the Czech Republic. This was the first time that 48 Lindauer portraits had left New Zealand’s shores since they were painted over 100 years ago, and the Berlin exhibition broke all previous attendance records.
The Lindauer portraits are some of the ‘stars’ of Aratoi's collection, but it also contains hundreds of other Māori and European taonga gifted for posterity or on long term loan from iwi and families in the region.
' We have an obligation to honour the trust placed in Aratoi by the community over decades. Aratoi and its collection are not 'assets' to be bought or sold as much of the collection is on long-term loan.' (Aratoi Director)
Gottfried Lindauer, Retimana Te Korou (1871) and daughter Irihapeti Whakamairu (1877)