Pataka was enveloped in a softly defused grey light this morning. The surrounding air felt heavy with moisture and the Porirua basin seemed eerily quiet as translucent veils of silent rain fell upon the lagoon.

Before the museum opened today we received the sad news that Manos Nathan, a leading Maori ceramic artist, one of the founding pillars of the Nga Kaihanga Uku collective and a generous teacher and mentor to many, had passed away.

The melancholy atmosphere outside perfectly reflected the inner feelings of the Pataka whanau as we remembered our personal experiences of Manos and pay tribute to his achievements as an extraordinary artist and cultural leader.

Compared with many of my colleagues, I only knew Manos for a short time. We met shortly after I joined the Pataka team in late 2012 when I was grappling with my first curatorial project; a 27 year survey exhibition of pivotal works by the Nga Kaihanga Uku ceramic collective. At that stage I knew very little about the contemporary Maori ceramic movement and hadn’t even heard of Nga Kaihanga Uku so felt totally out of my depth and unsure of where to start. It was my good fortune that the first artist of the collective I met and began to talk with was Manos Nathan.

Manos was extremely generous with his vast knowledge of contemporary Maori art and the origins and ethos of Nga Kaihanga Uku from the outset. With his patient guidance, I began a richly rewarding curatorial journey into contemporary Maori ceramic art that resulted in the Uku Rere exhibition. Uku Rere opened at Pataka in July 2013 and has recently returned to us after two years of touring institutional venues throughout New Zealand.

It doesn’t seem entirely coincidental that yesterday afternoon I was in our temporary art store securing some recently collected works at the time Manos passed away. It was just after 4pm as I turned to leave the room that I came face to face with the otherworldly seated female terracotta figure from his Whakapakoko series. I had always found her rather intimidating but yesterday afternoon she seems especially so as she forcibly held by gaze.

The many wonderful works Manos has left behind will ensure his extraordinary legacy continues to enrich the cultural life of our nation for generations to come. For those who were fortunate enough to know Manos personally we grieve with you and send our deepest sympathy.


Mark Hutchins-Pond
Contemporary Art Curator

Manos UkuRere_Manos-Nathan




The Path to Pātaka – PART 1

“Get a van, son.”

“Get a van.
Fill it with cleaning supplies.
Then you can be your own boss.”

These sage words
I remember
spoken to me as a passive-aggressive offering of hope
concealing my mother’s dismay
in hearing my decision…

…to go to art school…

These words have reverberated in my thoughts
ever since that first day
at the turn of the millennium
when I packed my bags
and headed off on my adventure…

…into the world of art…

This “back-up plan”
as it were
for when art inevitably failed me
or I failed at it
has never come to fruition.

As it is
fifteen years later
I now find need for a van and cleaning supplies
Not as a career path
but rather to run around and clean up…

…after my four messy, art-loving children…

Reuben Friend

Director, Pataka Art + Museum

Reuben Friend photo by Claire Giblin



2015 Friends Arts Award

Entry forms are available from Pataka’s front desk or download the pdf below, may the creative force be with you:

2015 Arts Award conditions and entry form


Wayne Y on tour

Ka pai Wayne!

Artist Wayne Youle (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Pākehā) returned to Pataka this week to begin the first stage of a Friends of Pataka residency. The residency has allowed Wayne to spend some dedicated time researching material for a new piece of work that he hopes to complete in April.

Wayne’s enthusiasm and creative energy has rubbed off on everyone here at Pataka and although it’s sad to see him leave, we can look forward to his return in April (hopefully with the entire Youle whānau), yay!

During Wayne’s residency, Pataka’s local historian legend Linda Fordyce conducted a tour, with the help of Ngāti Toa kaumātua Taku Parai, of sites around Porirua significant to Ngāti Toa and integral to Wayne’s research output. The sun was shining for the Friends of Pataka that day and we thank everyone involved and hope the tour was eye opening and enjoyable.

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Serena and Pataka peeps

Serena Franklin, undisputed multi-task install champion for February 2015.

Install time at Pataka can sometimes get a bit hectic and it’s moments like these when a cool, confident head and hands is required. Enter Serena Franklin, Weltec Bachelor of Creative Technologies student. Serena has helped us over the last few weeks with the install of our next exhibition Imagine Asia (opening 22 Feb, 2pm), amongst other things, and was thrown everything and anything to help get the job done. Often the pressure cooker nature of some install’s can be testing, but Serena’s can do attitude and relaxed way of working with everyone made the experience all the more enjoyable and her contribution was invaluable.

We wish Serena all the best for her studies and hope she’ll be back soon, thanks from everyone at Pataka.

IMAGE ABOVE: Serena snapped with some of Pataka’s staff (you almost escaped without a photo Serena, but not quite).
IMAGE BELOW: Serena working her magic.

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