Ko Taku Toa Takitini | Finding Strength in the Collective


exhibition Details

The Maori Artists and Writers Society (later Ngā Puna Waihanga) gathered for the first time over Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1973. Convened by poet Hone Tuwhare, the hui (meeting) was hosted by Te Whānau-ā-Apanui at Tukaki Marae, Te Kaha. It brought local people together with artists, writers, performers, activists, cultural leaders, and academics from around the country to discuss the position of Māori arts and culture in New Zealand.

The gathering featured all manner of Māori artistic expression with performances by traditional and modern singers, a concert programme, readings of poetry and prose, and a pop-up art exhibition. The exhibition showed a spectrum of Māori visual expression, and artists were on hand to provide korero (discussion) of their work and practical demonstrations.

Recommendations from the hui included Māori language teaching at preschoola, a private press for Māori publishing and designated government funding for Māori artists and writers. Reflecting on the conference, chairman Bill Tawhai commented: ‘Some new strength must come of this.’ Over the next decade all the aims were achieved.

The hui became an annual fixture during which progress was assessed, debates held and new directions for Māori art set. These gatherings developed into an extensive pool of talent and a network from which artists could be engaged. In the 1970s and early 1980s, with a lack of Māori curators or artists working in art institutions, the Maori Artists and Writers Society became the driving force in the production of Māori art exhibitions. This began at the 1973 inaugural hui and was stunningly captured in the now-iconic images of John Miller. 

Curated by
Nigel Borell
Kelliher Corridor

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