‘Ngā mahi whakatekateka’ is an adaption of the old proverb ‘Ngā Pakihi Whakatetateka o Waitaha’. One version of this pepeha is that the Canterbury Plains, where Ōtautahi now sits, was a place of pride for our ancestors. The Ngāi Tahu website explains ‘Whakatekateka’ as, ‘to create pride or to exhibit pleasure’. We also take this pepeha to mean that once our ancestors arrived they created and lived on a landscape despite the adversities they faced upon arrival. Creating a new Christchurch in the face of adversity is something Ngāi Tahu artists’ wish to celebrate with pride.

We also combine the pepeha with the more modern proverb, ‘Ki te Ngoikore koe i te ra o te he, he iti tou haha’ which implies that when faced with disaster, one needs to find strength’. Rawiri Te Marie Tau.

The Walters Prize is easily New Zealand’s most prestigious contemporary art prize. Held biennially since 2002, the prize aims to ‘make contemporary art a more widely recognised and debated feature of cultural life’. The 2016 nominees were considered notable, as three of the four nominees are of Māori descent and two are Ngāi Tahu. This success shouldn’t really be a surprise as leading contemporary Ngāi Tahu artists are among the nation’s best. Nathan Pohio should be congratulated on his tremendous achievement.

Our iwi’s leading artists have been invited to participate in a group show, these artists include: Nathan Pohio, Lonnie Hutchinson, Neil Pardington, Chris Heaphy and Fiona Pardington.

Photographer Fiona Pardington is the first New Zealand artist to be named a Knight (Chevalier) in the Order of Arts and Letters. Fiona was bestowed this rare honour by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, in May this year. We are fortunate to have several of her works to show, including one photograph which has never been exhibited before.

In this exhibition of contemporary Māori art, the odd work can easily be identified as Māori. Many works might not however, fit the indigenous stereotype that some viewers have come to expect. It is my firm belief that if an artist is Māori then by definition, what this artist produces is Māori art, no matter what the subject or method used.

‘Ngā mahi Whakatekateka’ is an exhibition of contemporary Ngāi Tahu art, opening 5.30pm September 6 at the Jonathan Smart Gallery,
52 Buchan Street, Sydenham, Ōtautahi – Christchurch.
Nā Eugene Huston, Curator.