The 40-year vision of Whangarei kaumatua and community leaders is coming to life with the Hihiaua Cultural Centre hosting its inaugural art exhibition Terenga Mai from the 22 June 2019.
The exhibition is curated by local artist Lenny Murupaenga on behalf of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust to celebrate the opening of the centre and speaks of the coming together of all peoples – arrival at a common destination.
Terenga Mai, presents a powerful group of traditional and contemporary works – it speaks of our journeys, across oceans, across the centuries and across the physical, spiritual and cultural landscapes of our past, present and future. Lenny uses the powhiri model in his every engagement and interaction welcoming the artists and their artwork into the kaupapa “Nau mai, haere mai ki Hihiaua”.
In expressing his organic approach, Lenny says, “I do not view art as a material element separate from the artist, I see the artwork as the essence of the artist.” He is delighted that this high-profile exhibition is building capability and capacity in emerging creatives through the Creative Northland internship programme with NorthTec. Selected students will work alongside Lenny learning all the elements of curating a show of this calibre.
The show will feature a number of outstanding artists working in various media including Whakairo (Carving), Painting, Graffiti, Taonga Puoro, Mixed media, Illustration, Uku (traditional clay), Sculpture, Printmaking, Taonga (treasures and adornments) and Raranga (weaving).
One emerging carver Poutama Hetaraka (Ngati Wai, Ngai Tahu) says. “Carving to me is our connection to our people – it joins the past, present and future – it is our hononga kite au tawhito. For me there is a sense of aio, calmness in creativity.” Poutama is not only learning the traditions of whakairo and ta moko from his father, Te Warihi, but creates designs with modern technology for use as graphics. These can be seen in logos and prints and the rebranded Northland Rugby Taniwha shirts. He recently completed maihi and amo for the whare at his old school, Kamo High, while creating intricate exhibition and commissioned pieces. Poutama is also part of a team currently working on a series of huge pou. As one of the resident carvers at Hihiaua, Poutama hopes to see the Hihiaua precinct thriving through all aspects of Maori culture. “It is not just for Maori to enjoy, but for everyone to get a glimpse into the richness and beauty of our culture.”
Another of the Terenga Mai artists, specialist carver Hohepa Hemara(NgatiKuta, PatuKeha), is one of the first graduates of Te Wananga o Aotearoa whakairo course in Whangarei. He has been carving for more than 30 years and loves to work with wood, especially totara. Hohepa says “I used to love kauri until I met totara.” He is one of the original resident carvers at Hihiaua and says it brings him peace. “It is like therapy to me being in that creative space. Kaputeruha, kahaoterangatahi!”
Emerging Northland artist Isaiah-Matthew Rameka will feature mixed media work. He is influenced by Charles F. Goldie and creates art associated with his and other cultures. Goldie’s famous paintings depicting Maori chiefs stimulated Isaiah’s passion for portraiture.
Isaiah is a third-year student, currently studying for a Bachelor of Applied Arts at Northtec. Isaiah’s goal is to gain a career exhibiting his art and display his works internationally.
Established uku (clay) artist Amorangi Hikuroa (Ngapuhi, NgatiManiapoto) is excited to feature work for this inaugural exhibition at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre. He sees the facility as intrinsic in the continued movement forward of his people. He weaves narrative and elements into his work, honouring stories old and new, fire, water, weather, and the great oceans that link all lands. Amorangi says that he is inspired by “everyday happenings, the simplicity and complexity of our environment, the vast unknown universe gargantuan and microcosmic”. Amorangi is a member of Nga Kaihanga Uku (Maori clay workers crew). He sees it is a privilege to be part of the whakapapa of uku – the ancient history connecting us to our Pacific tupuna.
A centre showcasing Maori art and culture in Whangarei was first envisioned by the elders over 40 years ago. The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust set up in 2008 took up this vision and moved it forward over many years, gathering momentum, facing challenges that arose, overcoming obstacles in their path until arriving at completion of stage one in June 2019. While the aim of the trust is the preservation and promotion of Matauranga Maori through the reclamation, restoration and renewal of Maori arts and culture, the trust is committed also to creating an environment of experiential learning and cross-cultural understanding.
“We are extremely excited to see this become a reality for the people of Tai Tokerau and our visitors. The public will be able to experience for themselves aspects of our unique and dynamic culture through meaningful interaction with our people, our language, arts and culture,” trust chairman, Richard Drake says.
Terenga Mai will be open to the public daily from 22 June until September 2, 2019. Most of the works are for sale and there will be an exhibition catalogue available for purchase featuring all the artists involved.
For all enquiries and interview requests:
Contract Media & Communications Manager – Hihiaua Cultural Centre/WDC