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Business as usual at Aratoi

By Gerald Ford

An Aratoi iwi exhibition planned for next March will go ahead despite an announcement of possible cancellation due to funding cuts, according to Aratoi Director Alice Hutchison.

The exhibition is titled Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua — Redressing our History.

It includes Gottfried Lindauer portraits of Wairarapa chiefs, five of which are heading to Auckland from October to February for a Lindauer exhibition there.

There are also hundreds of other Maori and European taonga gifted or on long-term loan from Wairarapa iwi and families.

Ms Hutchison said Aratoi “was built on voluntary support and community funding precisely to house the region’s taonga, which is now, after decades, being threatened.

“The Ngati Kahungunu exhibition reflects our commitment to local iwi, and indeed the Treaty of Waitangi,” she said.

The exhibition will be followed by one focused on Rangitane.

“We will not allow this development to undermine the mana and prestige either of this exhibition project or the priceless Gottfried Lindauer portraits of Wairarapa rangatira in the Aratoi collection.”

Ian Perry, chair of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua Treaty Trust, described the exhibition as important for the iwi “to inform and educate our whole community about why there is a need for a Treaty of Waitangi settlement”.

The exhibition would tell stories of “loss and disenfranchisement”, Mr Perry said, but still show “an optimistic framework for the cultural and economic future of the region, following the signing of the Deed of Settlement in 2017 by Ngati Kahungunu and the Crown”.

One centrepiece of the exhibition will be a Lindauer portrait of Retimana Te Korou, who with Joseph Masters worked together as founders of Masterton.

Huria Robens, chairwoman of Ngati Te Korou, remembered the purchase of this portrait.

“Descendants of Te Korou remember the huge effort by the Wairarapa community who rallied together for months, both before and after the auction, to purchase the portrait of our ancestor nearly 40 years ago.

There were a number of collectors from outside the area who had come to bid against the local community,” Ms Robens said.

“When the hammer fell, we were elated that it was the Wairarapa community who had placed the winning bid for Te Korou.

“We are also very excited about the upcoming iwi exhibitions, both Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane as Te Korou is connected to both Wairarapa tribes.”

Ms Hutchison has raised extra funding to ensure the exhibition will proceed, including support from Wellington Regional Amenities Trust, Trust House, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Friends of Aratoi and the Aratoi Foundation.

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