On the back of last year’s successful Tika Tonu exhibition, Hastings City Art Gallery Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga is set to unveil a new collaborative offering that seeks to shine a light on the value of Māori art. 

Opening on Friday, June 11 at 5.30pm, it’s titled te MOKO on our face/in your face and features the works of iwitoi Ngāti Kahungunu: Māori Artists Collective.

Exhibition curator, Sandy Adsett, said the works challenge the status quo that often overlooks and marginalises Māori art. “We’re making a statement, this is Māori art and ‘in your face’ means it’s around you and you can’t see it, you don’t recognise it as being a valid art of a culture,” says Sandy. “While some see recognisable Māori art symbols, they’re not looking at the integrity of the art that’s actually being produced.” 

te MOKO reiterates the notion that facial moko assert Māori identity, as too will the artworks being exhibited. Coming from a Māori-centric viewpoint, the display highlights the expertise and skill of 40 artists from the iwitoi collective.

The gallery space will be transformed in order to harness the visual and entertainment values of the marae, and performances and workshops will be held daily from a central stage. “This is a statement of being Māori, of loving the images that identify us and of claiming a space to stand as ourselves,” says Sandy.

Hastings City Art Gallery, Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga curator Clayton Gibson says the challenge to create a space to support and empower te iwitoi was one the gallery team wanted to pick up and make happen. 

“Embracing living, breathing conversations about mātauranga Māori and different ways of doing things has been hard work but this mahi has been an integral part of putting this exhibition together,” Clayton says. “My hope is that this dialogue will help us to continue to build the gallery’s relationship with iwitoi Kahungunu.”

He says the result is a “stunning showcase” of artwork that the gallery is excited to present to the community.

te MOKO on our face/in your face opens on Friday June 11 at 5.30pm and runs until August 15, 2021.

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