An exhibition being installed at Tairāwhiti Museum this week marks the beginning of a new era for EIT’s Toihoukura.
Toihoukura turns 25 in the New Year and the exhibition Hawaiiki Hou – new horizons – marks the start of the celebrations.
Dayle Takitimu,Toihoukura Head of School, is excited about the theme.
“Hawaiiki Hou is a theme that celebrates our inherent rangatiratanga over our own narrative, our own journey and our own sacred interconnections – it’s a bold declaration about our confidence in our artistic traditions and the integral nature of them to our peoples’ self determination.”
The exhibition features selected works from this year’s degree and post graduate students.
The selection promises to deliver a diversity of themes and messages in a wide range of mediums.
They include digital and conventional art forms, including light box installations, sculptural works, experimental films, carvings and paintings.
Since first opening in 1990, as part of the then Tairāwhiti Polytechnic, Toihoukura has grown to become what is widely regarded as the premier New Zealand School of Maori Art and Design.
From an initial offering of foundation courses, Toihoukura advanced to diploma courses and in 2007 it was accredited to deliver a degree progamme.
Three years ago it introduced a post graduate programme. This year 14 students are doing their honours. Most are returning in the New Year to complete their Masters degrees.
Their work for the Hawaiiki Hou exhibition reflects the high level of research and study undertaken by the students as part of their studies.
As a result, their works deliver strong messages, such as a sculptural piece by Christie Patumaka, Tauiwi Rima (Five Foreigners). This tells the story of five local body politicians who vetoed efforts by indigenous representatives to stop the discharge of human waste into local waterways.
Another, Wahine Atua, by Melanie Baldwin, reflects the way Pacifica women were exoticised during Colonial times when artists like Gaughin portrayed them as virtual sexual slaves.
These and other works reflect the kaupapa of Toihoukura to express important social messages through the arts, said Associate Professor Steve Gibbs.
The exhibition opens to the public in the Museum’s Chrisp Gallery on Friday evening. As part of the opening, and to mark the start of the anniversary celebrations, four post graduate students will receive scholarships from Dr Jack Richards, to assist them with their masterate studies.
Dr Richards and the museum have supported Toihoukura since its inception.