HERE: Kupe to Cook
11 August – 23 November 2019
Pātaka Art + Museum
Pātaka marks 250 years since Captain Cook’s arrival in Aotearoa with an exploration of the voyagers who were first to come here—Maori, Polynesian and European navigators.
Taking over four of the main galleries, HERE features works by many of our leading contemporary artists, including Dame Robin White, John Walsh, Greg Semu, Christine Hellyar, Rachael Rakena and Johnson Witehira. Their artworks convey the long and varied histories of South Pacific voyages—from Kupe to Cook. The exhibition title can also be read for Te Reo meaning of ‘a place to bind your waka’.
HERE begins with the epic journey of Polynesian navigator, Kupe, from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. Maungaroa is the punga (anchor stone) discovered in Porirua harbour and thought to be from Kupe’s waka. It’s our earliest taonga and a tangible link to the explorer’s connection to the region.
Greg Semu’s The Arrival (2014-15) was created in Raratonga as part of a series of works based on historical depictions of historical sea voyages. While Semu prompts a reconsideration of these portrayals from new perspectives, painter John Walsh creates an imagined history of what it might have looked like to leave Hawaiki (home) in Wharewaka (2017).
Other works also respond to these histories, some on a monumental scale, like Rachael Rakena and Johnson Witehira’s moving-image installation of Cook and Maui travelling through the Pacific, created especially for the show. There’s also new work by Susanna Lei’ataua who’s been in Samoa creating traditional blinds, to invoke conversations around privacy and voyeurism. Kazu Nakagawa’s Carving Water Painting Voice is a large visual/sonic installation, and Glen Wolfgramm’s five-metre painting Site (2010) references both his Celtic and Polynesian genealogy.
Yuki Kihara’s lenticular print Takitimu Landing Site, Waimarama (2017) offers a Pacific perspective on arrivals in New Zealand, it explores connections between Ngāti Kahungunu and her homeland of Samoa. Red Cloud (2012) by Christine Hellyar is made up of dyed-red handkerchiefs, scarves, napkins and ribbons, all items used in trade and each featuring the name of one of Cook’s men. Red was the most valued colour in the Pacific, it’s also the colour of spilt blood—handkerchiefs symbolise the spread of disease during Cook’s time.