The Gallery’s Māori Advisory Group, Haerewa, was established in 1994.
‘Haerewa’ translates as the ‘first cut’ of the tā moko (tattoo) artist, and taking this name equates the group with cutting-edge activities.
Comprising pre-eminent Māori artists, academics and cultural figures, Haerewa is a voice for Māori artists and Māori art. The group’s aim is to provide cultural advice to the Gallery, to raise the profile of Māori in the Gallery and to foster an environment that encourages Māori to use and enjoy the Gallery.
Over the last two decades, Haerewa has played a vital role in the Gallery’s life. Its members have been instrumental in the establishment of the role of Indigenous Curator, Māori Art (Ngahiraka Mason for twenty years until 2015; Nigel Borell 2015–2020); have generously taken on the roles of kaumātua (the late Arnold Manaaki Wilson, Fred Graham, ONZM, Dr Patu Hohepa) and kuia (foundation chair, Elizabeth Ellis, CNZM, Mere Harrison Lodge); and have provided support for major exhibitions of Māori art, including Korurangi (1995), Goldie (1997), Hotere (1998), Pūrangiaho: Seeing Clearly (2001), Te Hei Tiki (2005), Turuki Turuki! Paneke Paneke! (2008), Modern Māori (2011), Five Māori Painters (2014), The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand (2016), Adorned Histories (2016), Radical Beginnings (2018), Wi Taepa: Retrospective (2018), Living Portraits: Mata Raurangi (2019) and Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art (2020).
A group of three innovative permanent artworks commissioned from Arnold Manaaki Wilson with Anthony Wilson, Fred Graham and Lonnie Hutchinson, are found at the principal internal and external thresholds of the Gallery. Previous Haerewa member Bernard Makoare was Māori design consultant to the Gallery’s redevelopment project from which emerged the ‘Māori dimension’ of the new building.
In 2014, members of Haerewa travelled to Berlin, Germany, to represent Māori and the Gallery at the opening ceremonies of Gottfried Lindauer: The Māori Portraits at Alte Nationalgalerie. In May 2015, representatives travelled to Pilsen, Czech Republic, for the exhibition Gottfried Lindauer: Pilsen Painter of the New Zealand Māori at the Gallery of West Bohemia. The opening ceremony was a traditional kawe mate, the return of the spirit of the deceased to the homeland, in this case Lindauer to his birthplace of Pilsen. In 2017, Haerewa travelled to the de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA, with The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand.
Chaired by Elizabeth Ellis, CNZM from its foundation in 1994 until 2021, Haerewa is currently chaired by Dr Valance Smith.