A new gallery supporting ākonga, kaimahi and Aotearoa’s art and design community has opened at Unitec-Te Pūkenga. Toi o Wairaka has been unveiled as part of the School of Creative Industries’ new facilities in the Mt Albert, Auckland campus.
The gallery supports the latest contemporary art and design projects by ākonga (students), kaimahi (staff) and other artists and designers in Aotearoa New Zealand. The project space for research and creative practice is guided by the values of Te Noho Kotahitanga, and the gallery supports teaching and learning through an annual programme of activities including exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and postgraduate examinations.
The name was selected from suggestions developed by the School of Creative Industries kaimahi, says Hohepa Renata (Ngāpuhi), Kaihautū Creative Industries.
“It immediately caught the attention of the Te Reo Committee as it invokes our connection to the whenua and the wai. It also invokes both the spirit of Rakataura, who found the aquifer and Wairaka, who stamped her foot to bring forth the puna [spring] that is the heart of Unitec.”
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Te Pūkenga executive director rohe (1), says, “The gallery demonstrates our support for the wider arts community and strengthens our relationship to external festivals and other institutions – this space will enable exhibitions to travel between sites.
“Toi o Wairaka has many roles – it is a research facility for ākonga and kaimahi, a teaching and learning space for postgraduates and undergraduates, a connection point with external art practitioners, a professional arts space where industry learning can take place, and a multi-disciplinary space for screen, moving image, craft, painting, print, photography, performance, sculpture, object, installation, design, and incorporating new technologies.
“For the people of Tāmaki Makaurau and beyond, we aspire to extend beyond the gallery walls and make the arts visible to the wider community, such as with the Te Pātaka Art Trail, the community art trail which opened at Unitec-Te Pūkenga earlier this year.”
Toi o Wairaka was officially opened this week, and simultaneously its website launched along with its first exhibition, Mid-Year: Semester One Graduands, Design & Contemporary Art, featuring the work of Alyssa Beckwith, Dhriti Bhatia, Glaszia Luwenta, Tusia Sione, and Elvira Trowbridge.
Gina Ferguson is the gallery curator