Maori panel to advise on art centre

A Maori advisory panel has been appointed as consultants for the $13.7 million Hundertwasser Art Centre planned for Whangarei.

The panel, chaired by Elizabeth Ellis of (Ngapuhi/Ngati Porou), will advise on the curatorship of art and exhibitions in keeping with the harmony, spirit and philosophy of Maori culture.

The gallery will exhibit the work of contemporary Maori artists, as well as their nationally significant works loaned from the collections of major public art museums.

Northland was a second home to Austrian-born Friedensreich Hundertwasser, one of the 20th century's most celebrated artists.

Consultants Deloitte said the centre at the Town Basin, due to open in 2015, will attract 150,000 visitors and bring $3.5 million a year in net economic benefits to Northland.

The figures are based on government statistics of domestic and international visitors to Northland.

Hundertwasser, who also created the Kawakawa Public Toilets, wanted a dedicated Maori Art Gallery to be included in the new centre.

The newly appointed panel is a requirement of the Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation in Vienna.

"The gallery will exhibit the work of our most gifted contemporary Maori artists, as well as nationally significant Maori works loaned from the collections of major public art museums," Ms Ellis said.

Whangarei Art Museum Trust chair Councillor Sharon Morgan said the centre offered a unique opportunity to transform Whangarei and the Northland region into a global tourist destination.

She said the Whangarei District Council had committed $8 million towards the project and a capital campaign has begun to find the remainder.

Work is expected to start on the centre mid next year.

Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, former Maori language commissioner Dr Patu Hohepa, Arts Foundation of NZ laureate Shane Cotton, multi-media artist Lisa Reihana, Ngapuhi's general manager for iwi development Allen Wihongi, and leading clay artist Manos Nathan are also members of the panel.

- Northern Advocate

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