There’s barely a VIP that visits the region that doesn’t stop by Toihoukura’s Maia Gallery.
It has become a true showcase of all that is good about Gisborne and the wider Tairāwhiti region. It’s a hub for artists to exhibit, create and share – in so many ways.
It is places like this that are slowly changing the perception of artistry, and gently rearranging the community hierarchical pyramid to what it used to be in centuries gone by.Until the 1860s Tairāwhiti was very much the area where other iwi came to be educated in everything – from oral histories to ta moko. There was a time when that fell out of favour but now, that is changing. Toihoukura is the contemporary face of that tradition.
The Maia Gallery – named for the ancestor – functions as a marae where they hold, among others, weaving, clay, painting and ta moko wananga, and students sleep where they learn – these are most often the EIT Tairāwhiti students studying one of Toihoukura’s six programmes – list – however Maia Gallery also open their doors to other students.
The Maia Gallery has played host to some of the nation’s most recognised artists, and has also been part of the creative pathway of those who have gone on to great fame. It is a working gallery, offering a chance for students to learn all the curatorial and exhibition skills that go with being an artist. But it is more than that. Toihoukura is one of the most respected schools of contemporary Māori visual arts and design in the world. Its students and teachers are sought out to speak, exhibit and advise all over the globe.
The gallery doors are always open and it’s a peaceful and spiritual place to wile away time. One of the nation’s biggest Matariki exhibitions is held at the Maia Gallery each year – an indication of the esteem in which Toihoukura is held.