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Curated by Moana Nepia

St Paul Street Gallery, AUT, Auckland. June 4-21, 2009

Opening June 4, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Performances on the opening night will include: Tai Royal and Taane Mete, Tru Paraha, Nancy Wijohn, and Poto Stevens Dunn

Tru Paraha in Mareikura  - Messengers of Io (2008). Photographer  Terri Ripeka Crawford.Unidentified Maori group with poi, performing at the unveiling of the Tasman Memorial at Tarakohe, during the Tasman tercentennial celebrations (1942) Photographer John Dorbee Pascoe. Courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library.

Ka  Mau te Wehi – conversations in Maori dance examines Maori dance as art-form, entertainment and cultural identity, through a juxtaposition of archival and contemporary imagery. The exhibition is a striking celebration of the dynamic force felt through movement in performance while also bearing testimony to the artists, photographers, film and documentary makers whose creative efforts help inform us who we are as New Zealanders.

From some of the earliest drawings and prints of haka, to photographs and video of Maori contemporary dance, this exhibition draws together moving and still images from private collections and public institutions including the Hocken Collections, University of Otago, the New Zealand Film Archive, Archives New Zealand, the National Library of New Zealand and the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The exhibition begins with a documentary video where over thirty participants discuss ideas of Maori dance, created by curator, visual artist and choreographer, Moana Nepia. This video initiates a conversation that is continued in the exhibition through drawing taonga together. These taonga include prints by Augustus Earle and Joseph Jenner Merrett that represent early European encounters with Maori dance and photographs of haka from King Tawhiao’s funeral and Parihaka in the 1890’s  that evoke narratives of resistance and solemn moments in our colonial history. Rare silent footage of poi rehearsals and string games from Te Hui Aroha ki Turanga (1919) will also be on display. This footage is all that remains on film of a hui in Gisborne to commemorate the return of the Pioneer Maori battalion from the First World War. Striking a more contemporary note, familiar and much loved images of Maori moving and grooving by photographer Ans Westra are included alongside other images from private collections. And photographs of the Atamira Dance Collective performing Moss Patterson’s harrowing theatre dance work Whakairo reveal Maori engagement with contemporary dance.

The exhibition will open with responses from an exciting line up of performers including Tai Royal and Taane Mete, Tru Paraha, Nancy Wijohn, and Poto Stevens Dunn on the first night. Following this a series of lunchtime gallery talks will explore different aspects of the exhibition.  Presenters include John B Turner, senior lecturer and photographer, Elam School of Fine Arts; Charles Koroneho, lecturer and performance artist, Unitec; Natalie Robertson, lecturer, photographer, AUT University; Stephen Bradshaw, choreographer and arts administrator; Alex Monteith, lecturer, photographer and video artist, Elam School of Fine Arts; Moata MacNamara, performer and PhD candidate in Art and Design AUT; and Atamira Dance Collective.

A more detailed programme of events will be updated regularly this blogsite created specifically for this exhibition.

This exhibition at St Paul Street Gallery is one of the outcomes of a research project led by Moana Nepia, funded by Nga Pae o te Maramatanga and hosted at Te Ara Poutama, AUT.

photo credits

left
Tru Paraha in Mareikura  – Messengers of Io (2008). Photographer  Terri Ripeka Crawford.

right
Unidentified Maori group with poi, performing at the unveiling of the Tasman Memorial at Tarakohe, during the Tasman tercentennial celebrations (1942) Photographer John Dorbee Pascoe. Courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library.

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