Te Tuhi exhibition pauses for gratitude

Joy Vercoe (left), curator Ngahiraka Mason (centre) and artist Kereama Hohua at the opening of A Very Different World.

Just a day before the level 3 lockdown, Te Tuhi launched their new major exhibition by prominent Māori curator Ngahiraka Mason’s A Very Different World, on Saturday February 27.

Featuring the works of 18 Aotearoa and international artists, the show also features multiple offsite works, including Maraea Timutimu on Te Tuhi’s Parnell Station Billboards; Russ Flatt’s flag installation at the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Jaimie Waititi at Papatūnga, Parnell Station.

A Very Different World was conceived by Mason as an opportunity to focus on wellbeing and to provide a much-needed glimmer of hope for the future, against the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic.

The exhibition champions the concept that aroha (love) is Aotearoa’s greatest cultural possession.

“We are more than the sum of our race, sexuality, gender and heritage,” says Mason, an independent curator, critic and visual historian with research and curatorial interests in the material culture and histories of Polynesian peoples and community relationships with museums and collections.

“Love is vital and helps us through controversies, changed realities and times of uncertainty like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are humbled by a virus that threatens human life. We are also optimistic about our human capacity to hold reverence for love and for life. This exhibition gives pause for optimism and gratitude.”

Mason travelled to New Zealand from her home in Honolulu, Hawai’i, in time to attend the opening on Saturday.

Te Tuhi’s executive director Hiraani Himona says, “We were delighted to launch this very special exhibition with such a huge turnout, and it was a real honour to be joined by several of the featured artists and of course, Ngahiraka herself.”

Highlights from the exhibition include a large-scale photographic wallpaper by Russ Flatt, a carved mataī sculpture by Kereama Hohua, a suite of kai Māori paintings by Hiria Anderson and an embroidered textile work by Arielle Walker – all of which are new commissions presented for the first time in A Very Different World.

The exhibition is presented by Te Tuhi in association with Auckland Arts Festival Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Makaurau and the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa.

The exhibition runs until May 9Te Tuhi is open 9am-5pm daily under Alert Level 2 or lower.