‘He wahine, he whenua, e ngaro ai te tangata’ is a Māori proverb which is often interpreted as meaning ‘By women and land men are lost’, [and] it also refers to the essential nourishing roles that women and land fulfil, without which humanity would be lost. It should be remembered that earth is Papatūānuku, the ancestress of all Māori, and that land is of paramount significance to Māori socially, culturally, spiritually, politically and economically.
– Annie Mikaere, 1994
In honouring Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) we pay tribute to the leadership of women and the role they play in the transmission of knowledge and language and the maintenance of cultural continuity. In this room we present generations of Māori women artists and their artworks, which locate the importance of ira wahine (female life principle).
The artforms that lead on from this gallery in raranga (weaving), whakakai (body adornment) and uku (clay making) are forms that whakapapa (connect genealogically) to Papatūānuku. They recall the significance of the land in understanding ancestral connections to materials, techniques and knowledge that comprise these living, enduring art traditions.
- Curated by
- Nigel Borell
- Friedlander Gallery