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Exhibition celebrates our wonderful wahine

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A celebration of the contribution prominent women have made to Porirua during the last two centuries is the focus of a new exhibition coming to Pātaka.

The exhibition, called Māreikura: Wāhine Beyond Suffrage, tells the story of 12 prominent women of standing, known as Māreikura, who lived here during the last 200 years, and interweaves them into the art of 10 contemporary female artists.

Pātaka Director Reuben Friend said the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand had been the inspiration for the exhibition. "We wanted to celebrate and highlight the stories of some amazing women who have come from or lived in the Porirua region. We are also taking the opportunity to show some of the best, and newest, contemporary art by both established and emerging women artists in Aotearoa New Zealand, including several with strong Porirua connections."

Looking beyond the suffrage movement, the artworks in this exhibition acknowledge those who have struggled for rights and recognition outside of the campaign for the vote.

The exhibition threads together artists working across different generations and media, such as Robyn Kahukiwa, Diane Prince, Ann Shelton, Suzanne Tamaki, Lonnie Hutchinson, Emma Fitts, Darcell Apelu, Louisa Afoa, Pouarii Tanner, and Hannah Bronte.

Many of the artworks celebrate the unbroken strands of knowledge that have been passed between generations of wāhine, including artistic, medicinal, and familial traditions. Others take on the subject of legal, political, and artistic representation.

The local wāhine featured in the exhibition are renowned for laying a path for those that came after them by signing the Treaty of Waitangi, adding their name to the Suffrage petition, or helping lead their communities. The show features Ngāti Toa Rangatira leaders Rangi Topeora and Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi, who were two of only 15 women across the country who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

All the women in this exhibition were inspirational trailblazers who made a huge impact on the lives of not only the people in their immediate communities, but also the lives of women that have followed them.

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