In commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o te Waitangi/The Treaty of Expressions presents an exhibition which features five Mana Wahine artists, with reputations for pushing boundaries. Waitangi Wahine opens on Good Friday and showcases works using a variety of media from big name artists Robyn Kahukiwa, Linda Munn, Suzanne Tamaki, Tracey Tawhiao and Andrea Hopkins.

Tino Rangatiratanga Flag, Andrea HopkinsCurator of Waitangi Wahine Chriss Doherty-McGregor explains the exhibition is very provocative and showcases some of the most reputable Maori artists in New Zealand.

Essentially this group of work is in response to the impact of the Treaty and its effect on Maori today. It makes you think about the treaty and what it means, and what it has meant for us a nation, both Maori and Pakeha. Together the artists featured here provide political statements on this debate, on the significance and status of Aotearoa/New Zealands founding document and the intention, spirit or principles of the Treaty.

The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed, on 6 February 1840. The Treaty is an agreement, in Maori and English, which was made between the British Crown and approximately 540 Maori rangatira (chiefs). In the English version, Maori cede the sovereignty of New Zealand to Britain; gave the Crown an exclusive right to buy lands they wish to sell and, in return, were guaranteed full rights of ownership of their lands, forests, fisheries and other possessions and the rights and privileges of British subjects. The Maori version was deemed to convey the meaning of the English version, but had important differences. Most significantly, in the Maori version the word sovereignty was translated as kawanatanga (governance).

Some Maori believed that the Governor would have authority over the settlers alone; others thought that were giving up the government over their lands but retaining the right to manage their own affairs. The English version guaranteed undisturbed possession of all properties, but the Maori version guaranteed tino rangatiratanga (full authority) over taonga (treasures, which can be intangible). The precise nature of the exchange within the Treaty of Waitangi remains a matter of debate today and is the impetus of the works featured in the show. Funding was also received from the Manat? Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Waitangi fund.

Robyn Kahukiwa 2 Hina Super HeroesOne of the artists featured is Robyn Kahukiwa (Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngati Hau, Ngati Konohi, Whanau a Ruatapere) Based in Kapiti, Robyn Kahukiwa is New Zealands foremost Maori women artists. A staunch supporter of M?ori rights and the power and prestige of Maori women, she has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for over four decades. She is recognised as an art icon and role model, a leading voice in contemporary Maori art and an international leader in indigenous art. Through her work Kahukiwa has established strong connections between art and politics and has done much to raise awareness of contemporary M?ori art on the world stage. One of her works which features in the exhibition

Another artist is Linda Munn (Nga Puhi, Ngai te Rangi, Te Atiawa, Ngai Tahu). Munn had been involved in protest art since the 1980s, when art became a media used to comment on current issues. In 1989 she collaborated with two other Whangarei mums in one of their kitchens to design the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, which has been acknowledged as a symbol of Maori sovereignty and used in protest marches and demonstrations throughout New Zealand. The flag features in much of the work in the exhibition.

Suzanne Tamakis (Maniapoto, Tuhoe, Te Arawa) large scale photographs also feature using provocative fashion photography to agitate discussions about colonisation, with wahine-toa (women of strength) featuring prominently. Tamaki was one of the founding members of the Pacific Sisters fashion collective in the mid 90s participating in various multimedia fashion shows including the 12th Sydney Biennale and the South Pacific Festival of the Arts in Samoa, Palau and Pagopago. Her work is exhibited and collected extensively throughout New Zealand and the Pacific.

Tracey Tawhiao (Ngai te Rangi, Whakatohea, Tuwharetoa) is a writer, performance poet, filmmaker, qualified lawyer and leading Maori artist based in Auckland. Her artworks are made from newspaper where Tawhiao uses Maori symbols and motifs to ‘rewrite and recreate news stories from an alternative, Maori perspective. By obscuring certain words in a headline or passages of an article, and layering sheet of newspaper she changes the focus of each news item and changes the often negative editorial slant.

Andrea Hopkins is one of Northlands leading contemporary painters. She is known nationally and internationally for her work which blends cultural semiotics with surreal landscapes. Of M?ori, New Zealand and Welsh decent Hopkins is influenced by the Maori concepts of wairua/spiritual, hinengaro/emotional, whanau/family and tangata/the physical being. Her practice involves taking everyday identities and M?ori motifs and places them against delicately brushed landscapes conveying messages of duality and strength.

A House Divided Against itself Cannot Stand, Suzanne TamakiSuzanne Tamaki, who also grew up in Upper Hutt, will be doing an artist talk on Sunday 19 April at 1pm where she will talk in depth in and around the work.

Waitangi Wahine
3 April 17 May 2015
Open 7 days, 9am 4pm
Free Entry
www.expressions.org.nz

Media enquiries and images:

Leanne Wickham , Director
T 027 706 6703 (04) 527 2851
E director@expressions.org.nz

To interview Suzanne Tamaki please contact her on
P 04 803 8025 | M 021 227 8025
E Suzanne.Tamaki@wcc.govt.nz