Te Papa’s new exhibition celebrating Te Ao Maori to tour the world

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Te Papa presents a preview of its new touring exhibition E Tu Ake: Standing Strong before it commences an international tour in October. E Tu Ake: Standing Strong is a powerful exhibition that showcases ancestral Maori treasures alongside selected contemporary Maori artworks to reflect the artistic breadth and political aspirations of this vibrant indigenous culture.

E Tu Ake: Standing Strong will open on Saturday 9 April and runs until Sunday 26 June 2011 in the Visa Platinum Gallery, Level 4 at Te Papa. Admission is free (www.tepapa.govt.nz/etuake).

The exhibition, curated from Te Papas Maori and art collections, explores the richness of Maori culture through their own voices, the ancestral treasures, contemporary Maori art, and stories of New Zealands indigenous people.

This exhibition has been developed to share the knowledge, stories and treasures of Maori culture with international audiences but will be proudly premiered here at Te Papa before its first international showing in France at Museum Quai Branly from 3 October 2011, said Michelle Hippolite, Te Papas Kaihautu (Maori Leader).

At the heart of this beautiful exhibition lies the long-held call from Maori for Tino rangatiratanga (the ability to choose ones own destiny). Featuring over 250 objects, ranging from customary taonga (treasures) to contemporary artworks, the exhibition exploring tino rangatiratanga as it is expressed through three key Maori concepts whakapapa (genealogy), mana (spiritual force), and kaitiakitanga (guardianship). It presents not only the histories, identities, and world views of Maori, but also the political aspirations of this strong and resilient culture.

Some significant taonga in the exhibition have rarely been seen and tell stories of the journey and cultural endurance of Maori. These are the Pouwhenua (ceremonial boundary marker), carried by marchers from the Cape to Wellington during the 1978 Land March; the Wi Te Manewha life mask; and a 5.5m high waka whakamaumahara (memorial cenotaph).

Twenty-five contemporary Maori artworks included in the exhibition depict the diversity of current contemporary M?ori art practice in medium, content, and artistic intent. Featured contemporary artworks, it includes the work of renowned artists Shane Cotton, Robyn Kahukiwa, Lisa Reihana, Saffron Te Ratana, Darryn George, John Miller, Fiona Pardington, Reuben Paterson, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Natalie Robertson and Kohai Grace.

Te Papa Press is releasing the accompanying catalogue E Tu Ake: Standing Strong edited by Dr. Huhana Smith. Based on the exhibition, this is an eye-opening and highly accessible account of the Maori world, both traditional and contemporary. The book also showcases Te Papas most prized ancestral taonga (treasures) including carvings, jewellery, weaponry, and more. The catalogue will be available from Te Papa Store in April.

Te Papa would like to acknowledge Pelorus Trust as the Principle Funding Partner and the support from Te Puni Kokiri, Wellington City Council, and Visa Entertainment.

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