Anna Karena waited a very long time to stage her first exhibition of paintings and kete whakairo, but she wasn't prepared for the response.

Her pop-up Matariki exhibition opened in the Hofstede Arcade in Kaitaia's main street on Saturday morning, and by the end of the day every last kete whakairo had been sold.

Te Kainga: Home had attracted a crowd even before the doors opened, she said on Monday as she prepared herself to start weaving again to replace what she had sold. People had been "pouring" into the temporary gallery while she was setting up on Friday, she said, and so many people have arrived for the official opening on Saturday that there had barely been room to move.

Mrs Karena said she had been painting since she was a child, but now, aged 79, she was displaying her work publicly for the first time. And she had been very gratified by its success, even if it meant stripping more flax on Sunday night, until, at 11 o'clock, she decided to call it a day.


She did have one unsold kete on the premises on Monday morning, but, while it looked a thing of beauty to the untrained eye, she did not believe it was of a sufficiently high standard to sell.

Te Kainga: Home will remain open until Thursday next week (July 4), 10am to 4pm week days, 10am to noon on Saturday.