Te Papa’s leading art scholar receives royal recognition

22 August 2014

Te Papa wholeheartedly congratulates Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Head of Arts & Visual Culture at New Zealand’s national museum, who received the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) during an investiture ceremony at Government House in Auckland this week.

Professor Mane-Wheoki is one of New Zealand’s leading scholars, researchers and practitioners of Māori art, and had a significant impact on Te Papa from the time he joined it in 2004 as the Director of Art and Collection Services. He immediately set about developing a strategic framework for art at Te Papa and looking at more ways of sharing the national collection. This resulted in Toi Te Papa Art of a Nation, an exhibition that acknowledged the museum had a unique story to tell about art in New Zealand, with a collection spanning taonga of pre-European settlement through to the most contemporary responses.

Professor Mane-Wheoki’s lifetime commitment to the arts has created an enduring legacy, not least at Te Papa, where he has continued to affirm its position as a leading cultural and arts institution, in this country and in the international area. He was an Honorary Research Associate at the national museum from 2012, and returned in 2013 as Head of Arts and Visual Culture, bringing with him an in-depth knowledge of Mātauranga Māori and expertise in international art history.

Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautū, says, “Jonathan’s contribution to art in this country can’t be overstated and it is wonderful to see this recognised. His breadth of experience, his mana and his willingness to share his knowledge and passion of both Māori and international art history with so many has left an imprint on Te Papa that is undeniable and highly valued.”

This is reflected in his work as an educator and advocate, his pioneering commitment to art scholarship, and his promotion of Māori art and artists. He has paved the way for others to demonstrate and develop their own abilities in their chosen fields. His work has made an indisputable difference for many Māori artists; and how their work is received, understood and appreciated.

The chairman of Te Papa’s board, Evan Williams, says “As Te Papa’s Head of Arts & Visual Culture, Jonathan has had a strong vision for the national museum’s approach to art and he has constantly sought to find new and innovative ways to share art with our visitors. We are grateful for the energy and passion he brings to his role and work.

Mr Williams wanted to personally acknowledge, on behalf of the wider visual arts community, the incredible contribution that Jonathan has made throughout his career to New Zealand. He has constantly challenged us to ensure that art has an appropriate place in our communities.

Professor Mane-Wheoki has been responsible for some of Te Papa’s most significant and successful international art exhibitions, including Monet and the Impressionists, Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky and Holbein to Hockney: Drawings from the Royal Collection. He has also provided research and professional leadership to the curatorial team of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, Te Papa’s most recent art show based on regular changes that enable the Museum to showcase more of the national art collection. His willingness to share his knowledge and time is evidenced in the large number of advisory roles he has held, and the range of projects he has been involved with. Professor Mane-Wheoki has served on a wide range of national and international bodies, including the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, New Zealand Venice Biennale Selection Panels, the Humanities Panel and Council of the Marsden Fund, the Council and Humanities and Social Sciences Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Advisory Council of the (Renzo Piano-designed) Centre Culturel Tjibaou in Noumea.

His service to the arts communities began in 1962, with his appointment to the Auckland Arts Festival Executive. He is a governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and a member of the Board of the Auckland Philharmonia, the Maori Advisory Panel of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre, Haerewa (the Maori Advisory Committee) of the Auckland Art Gallery, the Programmes Committee of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. He is also an Honorary Life member of the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Friends of Te Papa, and a patron of the Auckland Theatre Company.

In 2012, Professor Mane-Wheoki was awarded the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the Humanities”, and he has also been the recipient of a Marsden Fund Grant for a research project on Māori art history. In 2008, the University of Canterbury awarded him an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his longstanding work exploring and promoting contemporary Māori art.

Media contact

Cherie McQuilkin, Communications Adviser
+64 29 601 0010 or +64 4 381 7071