Wednesday 9 May 2012
Dr Arnold Manaaki Wilson, MNZN, QSM, Arts Foundation Icon, PhD (Honorary), DipFA (Hons)
Arnold will be dearly missed as the Kaumatua of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and kaumatua of our close Haerewa whanau. He led the way for the Gallery in Māori protocols and made everyone in it culturally safe. He blessed Haerewa and with those blessings made us a strong, cohesive group. He blessed every part of the gallery and touched everyone who entered it and those who worked inside, and he blessed the artworks on the walls and in the stores. He imbued the Gallery with his wairua and we mourn his passing.
Arnold was a cultural hero. He will be remembered in the wider community of Aotearoa New Zealand as an extraordinary sculptor and carver. He was at the forefront of the group who challenged the established norms of traditional Māori art and created a new era of Māori Modernism. He was a change agent and his work reflected the new expressions of Māori art that opened the way for younger artists and contributed to burgeoning of Māori art of the 21st century.
Arnold was a remarkable art educator. He taught in secondary schools and as his students, he made us proud of the art forms, we inherited as Māori. He brought the community and huge groups of students together to make murals that told the stories of hapu and iwi around the country from Ratana Pa to the Far North. He led the way in the establishment of guidelines for The Arts, Nga Toi in the NZ Curriculum for schools. Through his work in education, he touched the lives of thousands of students from diverse backgrounds and therefore altered the cultural profile of Aotearoa New Zealand.
We thank his wife Rangitinia and his whanau for lending him to us.
Moe mai ra Arnold ki roto i nga ringaringa manaaki o te Matua-nui-i-te-rangi.
Elizabeth Ellis for Haerewa, Fred Graham, Mere Lodge, Bernard Makoare, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki and Lisa Reihana.