NorthTec involvement prevalent in Whangarei's new Hihiaua Cultural Centre

26 June 2019

NorthTec involvement prevalent in Whangarei's new Hihiaua Cultural Centre

This image shows the artwork by Whangarei carver, Peneamine Werohia, being installed as part of the exhibition.

The opening of Whangārei’s Hihiaua Cultural Centre is a significant milestone for Māori Arts in Te Tai Tokerau. To spearhead the opening, an inaugural exhibition - Terenga Mai - is on display until September 2, showcasing Māori arts in all its different forms, both traditional and contemporary.

The exhibition features a number of artists working in various media including whakairo (carving), painting, graffiti, taonga pūoro (Māori musical instruments), mixed media, illustration, uku (traditional clay), sculpture, printmaking, taonga (treasures and adornments) and raranga (weaving).

NorthTec has had a large involvement in the exhibition with 15 current students, 17 graduates and three current tutors displaying their art, and three interns helping with the curation of the exhibition.

Three of NorthTec’s Maunga Kura Toi (Bachelor of Māori Art) students worked alongside local artist and Creative Northland’s Creative Advisor, Lenny Murupaenga, to help with the curation of the exhibition. This internship provides students the priceless first-hand experience of working within the industry they are studying. Second-year student, Maree Amos, said the experience has been very valuable to her.

“The opportunity to meet new people and artists alike has been great, and also the experience of learning to display art work in a gallery,” says Maree.

Lenny says: “This experience gave these students a great insight into the importance of curating an exhibition. It is so valuable for them to add to their portfolio this experience and to utilise the skills they are learning in their programme, and they did such a great job! Their contribution helped to complete the exhibition in time.”

There are 15 current NorthTec students that are featured in this exhibition. One is emerging artist Isaiah-Matthew Rameka, who is displaying a mixed-media art work. Isaiah’s goal is to gain a career exhibiting his art and display his works internationally.

There are also 17 NorthTec graduates featured in the exhibition, as well as three current NorthTec tutors. Māori Arts tutor, Lorraine King, who displayed her personal work in the show, says the experience for the students has been invaluable.

“This knowledge base ties the real dealings of what it takes to be a practicing artist - the behind scenes of hanging, collection and caring for the art. The knowledge, observation, discussions and hands-on experience is something they have learnt that will support their study.

“Both current and past students of our degree exhibited and it was fantastic to showcase what students are creating within the degree and what our past students are creating now.”

NorthTec is proud to be a sponsor of the opening of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre. “The Hihiaua Cultural Centre has been a vision for many years and of many Māori in Tai Tokerau. To have a centre celebrates the essence of Te Ao Māori, the pinnacle of art, cultural capacity and capability for Māori to flourish.

“This is a space where Māori can be Māori; for the sharing of the arts to celebrate who we are to the world,” says Lorraine.  

Stage two of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre will involve the creation of an iconic building with an auditorium featuring an outdoor/indoor performance stage, a conference and events centre, as well as exhibition and retail spaces. It will eventually include space for a variety of artistic and cultural pursuits, a laboratory for Māori science and technology projects, an exhibition and retail space, as well as the waka facilities.