Sculpture a gift to Hawke’s Bay

Yesterday we had the official unveiling of “Ivy”, the stunning Tony Cragg sculpture now sitting at the entrance to MTG Hawke’s Bay. This work was created as a commissioned piece specifically to sit alongside the pillars at the entrance to MTG and it sits beautifully – looking as if it had always been there. Gifted to the MTG collection and the people of Hawke’s Bay by the Reydan and Roger Weiss Trust, this is the only Tony Cragg available on public display in New Zealand. We are truly blessed to be the recipient of such incredible and generous philanthropy, without which we could never even dream of acquiring a work of this calibre.

Tony Cragg is an acclaimed international artist, born in the UK and now residing in Germany. Among his many awards is the prestigious Turner Prize which he received in 1988. Cragg’s work has been shown extensively throughout Europe and beyond and is held in numerous major art galleries around the world.

Cragg finds inspiration in his materials, letting this inform the piece. If you approach ‘Ivy’ from different angles you will find various shapes, forms and even faces within the work. “His sensitivity to different materials is and has been the starting point for his work. To a great extent, his choice of material has determined the form, which a sculpture has taken on. Different materials give different emotional experiences, both for the artist and for us as observers. Tony Cragg points out that the words material and materia originate from the Latin word mater mother. Like a mother, the material gives birth to the thought; the different properties of a material give rise to the idea, which produces the form….”  Connoisseur, 2000

Sitting at the entrance way of the region’s premier cultural facility “Ivy” speaks to the significance of museums and galleries and the important role we play in inspiring new generations, holding collective and diverse memories, and generating debate

Those who attended the opening of our new exhibition “FAFSWAG: code switch” earlier this week, were treated to a series of stunning performance pieces to launch the exhibition. With artworks from three members of the South Auckland based FAFSWAG Arts Collective, this exhibition explores themes of gender and sexuality diversity. Complementing this exhibition a vibrant mural “Te Aniwaniwa Nui” has been emerging in the main foyer of the museum. Created by Taupuruariki (Ariki) Brightwell this work depicts the god of rainbows Uenuku and ancestors special to Ngāti Kahungunu, including the chief from whom the iwi takes its name.  Come in and view this vibrant artwork, the new exhibition “FAFSWAG: code switch” and “Ivy”. Entry to your museum is free so bring your friends and whanau.  

Unfortunately there were two errors in my column last week regarding Trooper Percy Robert Manson. Percy was killed on 30 March 1918 (not 1919) and died on Hill 309 (not 3039). I apologise for my errors and for any distress they may have caused.

  • Panel discussion with artists from the exhibition “FAFSWAG: code switch” on the practice of modifying expression to adapt to different sociocultural norms. Today, Saturday 24 November, 11am, meet in front foyer – free entry, no bookings required
  • This weekend (24-25 November) is the last chance to see “Steadfast Steamers: Models of Hawke’s Bay Shipping” which will be dismantled on Monday to make way for a new exhibition
  • Exhibition tour “House of Webb: A Victorian Family’s Journey to Ormondville.” with Curator, Gail Pope. 4 December ,11am, meet in front foyer – free entry, no bookings required
  • Twilight Art Class, held in the exhibition space, explore various mediums used by the Webb family throughout their journeys. This session focuses on comic illustration. 4 December, 6-8pm. $35 per class ($30 for friends of MTG). Please register to secure a place 06 835 7781

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Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 24 November 2018


Call for public input into new exhibition

Last week my fellow curator Te Hira Henderson shared his plans for an exhibition focussing on Rongonui – famous people and taonga; and another on the stories of freezing works communities around the region.

To follow suit, I’m currently working on two projects for which public input would be much appreciated.

Scheduled for March next year, ‘Project Banaba’ is an exhibition that illuminates the history of New Zealand’s role in mining phosphate rock from the island of Banaba (and nearby Nauru) for production of superphosphate fertiliser.

The creator of the exhibition, artist and scholar Katerina Teaiwa, is of Banaban heritage and was raised on the island of Rabi. Banabans were relocated en masse to Rabi between 1945-1983 as the mining rendered their homeland uninhabitable, bringing millennia of continuous occupation to an abrupt end. This tale of other nations’ material gain at the expense of Banabans is expressed in the words of Katerina’s late sister, the esteemed scholar and poet Teresia Teaiwa: “Agriculture is not in our blood, but our blood is in agriculture.”

Katerina was originally commissioned to create ‘Project Banaba’ for presentation in Sydney last year, focussing on the Australian part of what was a tripartite Australia-NZ-UK governmental mining partnership. She is now looking forward to developing it in response to the Hawke’s Bay and wider NZ context, and would love to hear from those with related stories, objects, photographs and so on.

As superphosphate fertiliser has been – and remains – key to the industrial agriculture sector regionally and nationally, there are many potential angles to explore. For example, New Zealand was first to develop the now globally standard practice of topdressing, as RNZAF pilots began utilising their planes and flying skills post-WWII to spread unprecedented amounts of superphosphate over extensive areas of land. While the nutrients added to the soil maximises grass growth and enables intensive farming, the resulting impacts on the health of soil and water systems are becoming increasingly clear.

Also underway is a proposed exhibition on the meeting of tangata whenua with those on board the HMS Endeavour, as part of the national ‘Tuia – Encounters 250’ programme commemorating the events of 1769. Exploring the immense significance and ramifications of whānau meeting Tupaia (the renowned Tahitian priest and navigator) as well as then-Lieutenant James Cook and the crew of Europeans, is a fascinating and important challenge. Drawing on the knowledge of mana whenua and others with insightful perspectives on this kaupapa will be vital to achieving a compelling and educational display.

Our exhibition proposal aims to centre the stories of this place, expressed primarily through contemporary art and possibly older taonga. Te Kauwae-a-Māui is a focal point: the exhibition would give insight into the significance of the headland’s original name, how it came to be known to many as Cape Kidnappers, and why this year its official name has been altered from the English name alone to ‘Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui.’ All three MTG curators plan to work on this project together, developing the exhibition alongside the community. If you’re interested in contributing, please contact either myself at, Te Hira Henderson at, or Gail Pope at

  • Pecha Kucha. Tuesday, 13 November 6pm in the MTG Century Theatre. Tickets $7 (cash only on the night).
  • Public Art Guided Tour with Art Curator, Jess Mio. Thursday, 15 November at 12pm, meet in the MTG front foyer. Free event, all welcome.
  • Kelvin Cruickshank Live (Soul Food). Friday, 16 November at 7pm in The MTG Century Theatre. Tickets available from Ticketek.

ProjectBanabaImage caption:
Project Banaba: exhibition by Katerina Teaiwa to be presented at MTG Hawke’s Bay following initial display at Carriageworks, Sydney

Jess Mio, Curator – Art, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 10th November 2018

Bay freezing works’ story need local input

Malo lalei, talofa lava, tēnā koutou, and hello there,

This is my first missive written from the MTG, as I am the new Curator Taonga Māori for MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri. Otherwise known in the native as Kaitiaki Taonga Māori Ahuriri Ngāti Kahungunu. Nō reira tēnā ra koutou katoa.

My name is Te Hira Henderson, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou. Down the pā I’m called Nene or Pete. A characteristic trait of my bi-cultural personality, combining the cultural attitudes and customs of two nations.

My background leading me here is just as wide, complex, and diverse. Born into this world of light in 1960 Hastings I was raised as Ngāti Kahungunu Waipatu, a native. Educated at St Johns College in Latin, I became more Catholic than the Pope – and having a Red-Coat soldier as a great grandfather, I am more English than many of my Pākehā kinsfolk. In accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi I am entitled to equal rights and should be granted a British Passport. In hindsight, when I left Hawkes Bay at age 17, I think I needed counselling!

In 1978 my working career started at Avalon Television Studios as a trainee Television Assistant on various shows such as Ready to Roll, Radio With Pictures, Country Calendar, Telethon, and all the rest, progressing to Floor Manager. In 1985, I transferred to TVNZ Auckland to direct and produce the beginnings of Māori Language programmes for television, initially documenting the oral history of our Kuia and Koroua. This was an effort to drag us out of the time warp of my great grandfather’s time and to change the status quo of NZ from a monolingual English country. This revitalising and normalising of Te Reo I continue to the present day. In the last 2 years I also combined this with Funeral Directing – one can see the similarity.

After 41 years I have returned to my ancestral home and this year have been granted the fortunate opportunity as Kaitiaki Taonga Māori. It is absolutely fantastic. And so are the roads: I became too scared riding my bike in Auckland.

I am working on preparing an upcoming exhibition called Rongonui, translating as Famous.

In this case any object or person that is Rongonui is for this exhibition. For example, in the museum collection is a tiki, once owned by Kawiti (a Ngā Puhi chief) and given to Sir Apirana Ngata (a Ngāti Porou chief). As Kawiti and Apirana are both Rongonui, the gifting between them makes this tiki very Rongonui indeed.

Researching is not so much a job, it’s a passion. Luke (who locks up) has had to expel me from the building twice, and I’ve also had be to let back in after hours, but only once. The MTG staff have been most welcoming, helpful, and bi-culturally very embracing. A couple want to speak only Māori to me, and another wants to accompany me whenever I go to the marae.

I am also proposing a future exhibition on Freezing Works in Hawke’s Bay: which will be a big exhibition if the proposal is accepted. The first closure of a Freezing Works in Hawke’s Bay was Whakatū in 1986, with Tomoana following in 1994. The closing of the Whakatū Freezing Works shattered and dispersed a community which impacted through generations, causing premature death and severe physical and mental illnesses – changing families forever.

A study by Vera Keefe-Ormsby, titled ‘Tihei Mauriora: The Human Stories of Whakatū’, relays the sadness, the loss, compounding negatively on families and a community. It does tell positive stories – women holding families together, positive career changes, an increase in Māori education subject matter, and wonderful race relations – however it ultimately tells of the extinction of a way of life and a community.

As I am in the research/rangahau stage, I would appreciate hearing from anyone who worked at the Freezing Works. I am wanting to gather in stories and find related objects for potential display.

Well, heoi anō ra, a te wā anō,

Te Hira Henderson

  • Sustainable Backyards Plastic Summit. A discussion about plastic with artist George Nuku and guest speakers, followed by an outdoor activity. Today, Saturday 3 November 2-4pm in the MTG Century Theatre. Free event, all welcome
  • Curators Talk, join Social History Curator Gail Pope for a talk on the House of Webb Tuesday, 6 November at 11am, meet in the MTG front foyer. Free event.
  • House of Webb Twilight Art Class – Sketching. Explore various mediums used by the Webb family throughout their journeys, taught by experienced educators and professional artists in a unique setting. Tuesday, 6 November 5.30pm-7.30pm. $35 (Friends of MTG $30), materials provided. To register visit MTG reception, email – or call 06 835 7781.

Whakatu freezing worksImage: Tomoana freezing works, which closed in 1994

Te Hira Henderson, Curator Taonga Māori, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 3 November 2018