Matariki Art Exhibition opens at University of Waikato

14 June 2022

Gina Matchitt’s Patikitiki I & Patikitiki II
Gina Matchitt used computer keyboard keys to create Patikitiki I & Patikitiki II (2010).

An art exhibition dubbed Voices of Mana Motuhake is open to the public at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts as part of the Matariki ki Waikato festival.

Between June 13 and August 26 a selection of artworks from The University of Waikato Art Collection will be on display, giving voice to kōrero (conversation) on Ko te Mana Motuhake - the motto at the base of Te Paki o Matariki, which is the coat of arms or crest of the Kīngitanga (Māori King Movement).

Each artwork on display represents Ko te Mana Motuhake and each shares a narrative through visual design, including imagery, symbols and kōwhaiwhai pattern (painted scroll ornamentation), illustrating the intentions and kaupapa, or policy, of the Kīngitanga as a political movement to the world.

University of Waikato Art Collection Curator Cerys Davidson
University of Waikato Art Collection Curator Cerys Davidson

University of Waikato Art Collection Curator Cerys Davidson says Matariki is a holiday that speaks to everyone in Aotearoa.

“The exhibition is something people of all ages can engage with and it’s nice to bring some of the collection together and share it in one space,” Cerys says.

James Ormsby’s piece, King Tāwhiao
King Tāwhiao by James Ormsby. Limited edition screenprint, 2008.

Several works from a series known as the Aotearoa Liberation Posters will be on display, such as James Ormsby’s piece, King Tāwhiao.

Cerys says James created the artwork in a move to restore mana (authority) to Kīngi Tāwhiao - a leader of the Waikato tribes, the second Māori King and a religious visionary - after the oil company, Texaco used his face to sell petrol in the 20th century.

Amongst other interpretive art is Jon Tootill’s piece, Glenview, an exploration into ‘Beazley’ homes in New Zealand, Vietnam Conflict V by Paratene Matchitt, speaking to protest issues beyond New Zealand shores, and Gina Matchitt’s Patikitiki I & Patikitiki II, incorporating Tukutuku patterning (ornamental lattice-work) found in the Wharenui (meeting house) and a form of communication.

Jon Tootill’s piece, Glenview
Jon Tootill’s Glenview (2003). Acrylic on canvas.
Vietnam Conflict V by Paratene Matchitt, speaking to protest issues beyond New Zealand shores
Paratene Matchitt used acrylic on carved wood to create Vietnam Conflict V (1967).

Cerys says she understands mana motuhake can have a variety of meanings and the artworks all in some way speak to that, and in many ways are voices of protest, political movements and key figures in te ao Māori (the Māori world).

“We want to share the message of Te Paki o Matariki,” she says, “because we don’t think the crest of the Kīngitanga, and what the messages are within in it, is very well known, while also expanding the concept of what Mana Motuhake is.”

The design for Te Paki o Matariki was commissioned by Kīngi Tāwhiao around the 1880s and created by Tīwai Parāone of Hauraki and Te Aokatoa of Waikato and Ngāti Raukawa. It was acknowledged by Rahui Papa, Pou Tikanga of Te Piringa Faculty of Law, and a recognised authority on Waikato reo and tikanga - as a symbol of peace, a declaration of integrity and representation of unity for tangata whenua as a turning point of the confiscation of land through the 1860s.

The cluster of stars, ‘Matariki te whetū’ represents the seven stars of Matariki (as recognised within Waikato-Tainui). Below is ‘Ko Manawa’ or the pulsing heart, and in the centre is ‘Ko Kōpū’ an intertwined koru pattern, representing the never-ending connection of the past, present and future. The two figures represent Aituā (misfortune) and Atua (spirituality), acknowledging the binaries that sit within all of us. The flora, ‘He tōtō Kai’ and ‘He tōtō kākahu’, reference the natural world which provides nourishment for body and soul, respectively.

Voices of Mana Motuhake will run until August 26, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm (excluding public holidays) in the main gallery at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. Find out more here.

To celebrate Matariki, Rahui Papa will also speak at a Te Paki O Matariki lecture at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on June 21 at 6pm. This free event, organised by the University of Waikato, is open to the public but registrations/tickets are required.

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