December 11, 2020
Niu pole take Tainui-Taranaki show beyond art
A whakatauki by Kiingi Tawhiao affirming the relationship between Waikato Tainui and Taranaki is one of the inspirations for a major new exhibition at New Plymouth’s Govett Brewster Art Gallery.
Ngaati Korokii Kahukura artist Brett Graham says he dwelt on the whakatauki during a two month gallery residency in Taranaki in 2019, during which he visited Parihaka where Tawhiao sent 12 representatives to help the prophets with their work.
The exhibition includes a mine metre Niu pole, a symbol of the Hauhau movement that lives on in the practice of Pai Maarire which still goes on among Tainui Marae.
"It was wonderful on Saturday when people came in, our people got off the bus and went straight to the Niu and we conducted this Pai Maarire ceremony so it was so wonderful considering that hadn't been done for maybe 150 years of that practice hadn't been seen in Taranaki for that length of time so it really activated the work and at that stage it became more than artwork for me," Graham says.
Brett Graham: Tai Moana Tai Tangata – A cautionary tale about human endeavour in Aotearoa New Zealand is on at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth until March 15.
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