A group of renowned New Zealand artists are breathing new life into Tauranga's heritage masterpiece, The Elms.

The Rooms, a collaboration with Tauranga Art Gallery, was sympathetically transforming the Elms Mission House and library.

Each artist had been given a room in which to create an exhibition that paid homage to The Elms in a fresh and exciting way.

Their interpretations would be unveiled on Saturday, with the special exhibition running until October 24.


''It is artists interacting with the house - it's a really exciting moment for us,'' Elms manager Andrew Gregg said.

Planning for The Rooms had taken two years. ''Sometimes there is anxiety around projects like this but everyone has been really supportive.''

Gregg said it was about offering a new interpretation to what was a familiar site to many people. ''It's an opportunity for people to become reacquainted with The Elms in a different way.''

The dining room was being transformed by glass artists Leanne Williams and Jim Dennison, collectively called The Crystal Chain Gang.

Williams was aware of how pivotal events that shaped the city's history were discussed in the room. Their installation, A Bit of Truth, would inject life into what had been a dark room.

She said the installation would be both familiar and different, with viewers brought into sharp focus by the placement of multiple mirrors around the walls. ''It will be quite intriguing.''

Art Gallery director Karl Chitham said the exhibitions would involve paintings, metalwork, ceramics, textiles and glass.

Each artist had been given the mandate to use their own works, helped by items from The Elms collection, to focus on a moment in the history of the mission house. Sometimes the room would be a clean slate, cleared of everything that had been formerly in the room.


''There were a lot of caveats about what we could do with the fabric of the building.''

Chitham said The Rooms would attract people back to The Elms and attract a new audience.

The project had been curated by Chitham and Kate Darrow. The other artists were Emily Siddell and Stephen Bradbourne, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Maureen Lander, Vita Cochran, John Roy and Gavin Hurley.

Admission to The Rooms

- Tauranga residents $7.50
- Other New Zealanders $10
- Overseas visitors $15
- Concessions for children and families.