Te Puna o Waiariki (The Spring of Waiariki) is a two-week exhibition taking place at the Keepers Cottage in Auckland's Albert Park.
Six contemporary Māori artists are showcasing their talents as a portal to mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and to bring awareness to the Māori history of Albert Park, which is not often spoken of.
The name of the exhibition links to an ancient spring that flows from the whenua tuku iho / historical area of Albert Park.
It was once a key water source over hundreds of years and was located 500 meters from where the cottage is today.
"The stream from Waiariki ran down from here to Queen Street. That's all been piped now but there's no acknowledgement of the original inhabitants of the pā. All the current markers of the pā are Victorian, British and colonial," Te Puna o Waiariki project manager Deborah White told the Herald.
"It's extraordinary that there's nothing to say about this place once being a home for Māori.
"This exhibition has been so important because we've had visitors over the last few days who live nearby and had no idea of the history.
"We currently have UoA students carving in the courtyard. The idea is for some of the established artists to mentor them."
White says she partnered up with fellow artist Anton Forde and they were able to gather together other contemporary Māori artists whose "work complement one another" to share the vision of bringing history back to life.
"All of the artists' work have references to this site."
Among the six artists are Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Ngāti Hine), who is giving live demonstrations of tā moko throughout the two-week exhibition, with a purpose to "realign [Māori] with this historical space".
As someone of mana whenua of the area, Tipene says his purpose is not only to normalise moko kauae (wahine neck adornment tattoo) and mataora (tane facial tattoo) but to bring back Māori customs which were actively practised more than 100 years ago.
"Just seeing how non-Māori the place is, our mission is to re-indigenise the space," he said.
"This is about being able to return the whakapapa and sacred mahi back to this space. We're doing kauae here which hasn't been done here in hundreds of years."
Te Rina Gregory-Hawke (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) is at the exhibition delivering live demonstrations of making poi and enhancing relationships and cultural identity, of which she says "you don't have to be Māori to participate".
"I've known how to make poi since I was in kohanga (daycare)," she said.
"I started doing wānanga (workshops) and we help people strengthen their cultural competency, identity and understanding. Identifying with our culture if you're non-Māori can help strengthen yours but just in an Aotearoa setting.
"We are making our culture, our history, our knowledge, easily accessible. We can do that through poi.
"When you look out into Albert Park, there's nothing that represents Māori. There are statues everywhere but there's nothing that represents us except us being in this whare today."
Te Waipuna o Waiariki also includes exhibitions from wāhine toa: Ngāhina Hohaia (Taranaki, Parihaka) and Penny Howard (Ngāpuhi, Te Mahurehure), and mana tāne: Anton Forde (Ngāti Ruanui, Gaelige, Gaelic) and James Ormsby (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato, Te Arawa, Katimana).
• The event runs from March 21 until April 4, 2021