Contemporary focus: Kura kura Ngāi tahu
Was on display from 22 February 2008 to 29 August 2008.
On 22 February 2008, the Contemporary Focus section in Toi Te Papa Art of the Nation changed from Recent Acquisitions to Kura kura Ngāi Tahu. Megan Tamati-Quennell, Curator of Contemporary Māori and Indigenous Art, writes of this exhibition:
Kura kura Ngāi Tahu is a Ngāi Tahu saying that speaks of diversity. It describes the individuality of the 18 papatipu runanga (small tribal autonomies) that make up the larger Iwi - Ngai Tahu whanui - and the cultural variation used within that tribal collective. Within Toi Te Papa: Art of the Nation, the title refers to a selection of contemporary art from Te Papa's art collection by Ngāi Tahu artists whose expression and particular focus are as individual as the artists are.
Developed to complement the Mō Tātou: The Ngāi Tahu Whānui exhibition, the 5th Iwi exhibition to be held at Te Papa (located on level four of Te Papa in Mana Whenua) Kura kura Ngāi Tahu features contemporary works (including recent acquisitions) by internationally and nationally significant artists who are of Ngāi Tahu descent and demonstrates their contribution to contemporary New Zealand art.
The ideas presented by the six artists in Kura kura Ngāi Tahu are not uniform or necessarily developed from an Iwi perspective. Instead, the works have evolved from the artists own individual practice and particular concerns, influenced by current art trends and discourse, post-modern or post colonial theory as well as influences such as globalisation. Some of the artists' perspectives in Kura kura Ngāi Tahu sit in contrast or even uneasily with the Iwi view, but through the concept of whakapapa (geneology) that connects all Ngāi Tahu, still have a place within the broader cultural collective and highlights the dichotomy the artists often work with.
Kura kura Ngāi Tahu sometimes used as an epithet for 'the many colours of the rainbow', attempts through the works selected, to emphasise the strength and beauty of the multiplicity of subject matter and issues it describes.