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.

Haerewa members


Ngāpuhi, Waikato, Ngāti Haina, Ngāti Pākehā

Dr Valance Smith is Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor (Māori Advancement) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), where he also leads the implementation of its Mātauranga Māori Strategy.

Valance holds a PhD in Māori and Indigenous Development, and is a composer, tutor and performer of kapa haka and modern music. He provides cultural and Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) leadership to AUT, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the corporate sector, and his whānau and wider communities.

His current research includes co-leading a suite of research projects with the National Science Challenges (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Hīkina Whakatutuki) looking at mātauranga Māori solutions for kauri dieback, and another looking at the relationship between maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), physical activity and well-being.


Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tūteauru, Ngāi Tūpoto; MNZM

Lisa Reihana is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. Her practice includes visual arts, working with art galleries and museums, the Māori film sector and tertiary education. Since the 1990s, Lisa has significantly influenced the development of contemporary art and contemporary Māori art in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her art making is driven by a powerful connection to community. Influenced by Indigenous principles, her ambitious and poetically nuanced work disrupts gender, time, power and representational norms. Lisa’s work is exhibited and held in collections nationally and internationally.


Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Aitanga a Māhaki; MNZM

A published writer, poet, artist and creator for television and radio, Dr Haare Williams has had a long and distinguished career across multiple fields of endeavour and expertise.

As an expert in te reo Māori, he served as both Dean of Māori Education and Māori Advisor to the Chief Executive at Unitec Institute of Technology. He led a joint venture with the South Seas Film & Television School to train speakers of te reo, and has worked closely with iwi claimant communities, including responsibilities for waka construction and assembly at Waitangi for the 1990 commemorations. Haare has served as cultural advisor for the Mayor of Auckland and is also Amorangi (Māori leader) at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.