TSB Bank Arena April 27 – April 29
A couple of weekends ago Wellington’s waterfront TSB Bank Arena (the former Queens Wharf Events Centre) was transformed into the inaugural MAORI MARKet. This was billed as an event to showcase and celebrate Maori art, culture, achievement, enterprise and creativity; it was based on successful exhibitions that the Charitable Arts Trust Toi Maori has run in North America, such as Maori Art Meets America in San Francisco in 2005, Eternal Thread and the highly successful Kiwa and Manawa exhibitions at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver in 2003 and 2006.
So what did one get for the 10 dollars that the members of the public were charged? More visual Maori artists (100+), than this writer has ever seen gathered in one place.
There were skillful demonstrations from our world class clay artists including such talents as Alex and Manos Nathan, Wi Taepa, Colleen Waata Urlich, Paerau Corneal, Amorangi Hikuroa, Rhonda Halliday and Bay Riddel. A large area where one could get and pay for a moko or tattoo from leading Ta moko (tattooing) artists such as Derek Lardelli (who also created the latest All Black Haka Kapa o Pango Haka. Think of Keven Mealamu’s throat slitting gesture…) and Mark Kopua and other members of Te Uhi a Mataora the national collective of Ta Moko artists.
A large number of weavers were also prominent, including Christina Wirihana, a registered user of Toi Iho, Kohai Grace- with some outstanding outfits, Donna Campbell, Edna Pahewa, Dianne Prince, all weaving tutors and students from Te Wananga o Raukawa (Otaki), and other large groups from Tai Tokoroa (Northland) and Tairawhiti (Gisborne). There were also hectares of paintings, sculpture, jewellery and wood, silver, bone, gold and greenstone carvings.
The top painters included Chris Byrant, Darcy Nicholas, Gabrielle Belz, June Northcroft Grant, Sandy Adsett, Ross Hemara, Jolene Douglas, Israel Birch and Lewis Gardiner.
There were several guests including six leading Native American and Canadian artists invited to exhibit their work. These included Lillian Pitt, a senior jeweller and sculptor of Portland, Oregon, and Denise Wallace, an Inuit jeweller now based in Hawaii, with some very beautiful displays of silver jewelry.
In addition to the visual artists, Huia Books, New Zealand Maori Tourism members, Iwi Art, and Pataka Museum also had stalls.
During the day, entertainment included story tellers Apirana Taylor, Hera Taute and Joe Harawira, singer-songwriter Hinemoana Baker and a daily fashion show MCed by performer Mere Boynton who was joined by performers from the Whiteria Dance programme.
There were various interesting seminars including a presentation from the Maori Tourism Operators Collective headed by Kapiti Tourism operator John Barrett.
While our crew weren’t invited, we heard tales of how successful the Thursday night Gala Evening (presided over by Sir Howard Morrison,) had been with many sales being reported as a result of the corporate people who attended it.
One disappointing thing apart from the fact that this market won’t be back for two years is that I was left wondering where was the food, wine, tourism and cultural exhibits that were promised? Was it perhaps a case that the organisers were asking too much from exhibitors?
I heard of one community service that was told it would cost them 300 dollars to have a table there. How much it would have cost our Iwi Tourism operators to come I hate to think.
If you happened to miss MAORI MARKet then you can alternatively visit Tinakori Gallery at 42 Victoria Street which is exhibiting Ae Am, an excellent exhibition which features some MAORI MARKet artists. It was opened on April 27 by Gail McCormick, the wife of the US Ambassador. to New Zealand. Alternatively, you can keep an eye out for the latest stuff at Iwi Art on 19 Tory St and around the corner from them on Kura 19 Allen Street.
Finally, there was an impressive display near the front entrance with steel sculptures and a large canvas with an interesting quote that was quite moving:
“It was never intended that the Treaty of Waitangi should be violated by dispossessing the tribes which are party to it of any portion of the land secured to them by the treaty without their consent.” Queen Victoria – Earl Grey to Governor Grey 3 May 1848 in Ko te PUKAPUKA a Te Wherow-hero p.1.