May 26, 2020
Apology hollow from ‘arrogant’ artist
A Nelson artist with a history of offending Māori with her paintings has been told to wake up and stop her displays of white privilege and cultural arrogance.
Nikki Romney says she used an app created by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to develop her latest painting, Taking Tikanga to the World, which shows young women of various races wearing non-traditional moko in front of a painting by Charles Goldie of Inā te Papatahi.
Deidre Nehua, who descends from the Ngāpuhi chieftainess Te Papatahi, says just because Goldie was commissioned to paint portraits doesn’t mean those images can be repurposed without permission.
She is aware of other incidents where Romney has apologised for her paintings, including one of Nelson ancestor Huria Matenga bare-breasted with nipple rings.
"How thick does she have to be to realise how offensive these are, if she has to keep apologising. I think the apologies mean nothing. It's a token gesture and she continues to do these offensive paintings of not just my tūpuna but other people’s tūpuna as well," Ms Nehua says.
She says Romney is lucky her Nelson gallery is a long way from the centres of Māori activism, or her paintings could provoke a more direct response.
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