The ancestors of Maori welcomed Matariki by flying kites.

In response to this tradition, 12 artists from across the Bay of Plenty have created a range of works in the shape of kites to celebrate the Maori New Year.

The works are eclectic, diverse and playful, according to Helium Gallery owner Sarah Ziessen.

"We wanted to use the kite shape because of the beautiful kites Maori would fly at Matariki to celebrate the connection between heaven and earth."


The artists have been enthusiastic and responded to the challenge making many artworks, and the gallery is adorned with an array of heavenly bodies, created in mediums from clay sculpture, glitter, paperclay, acrylic and oil to watercolour.

The exhibition will feature several of Rotorua's most prominent professional artists, including Bridget Thornton, Lani Eyles and Jane Matua. Both Eyles and Thornton have been finalists in New Zealand's major art awards, the Painting and Printmaking Award, and the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award.

Matua is a tutor at Waiariki, and in 2013 she won the inaugural Waimangu Volcanic Valley Sustainable Art Award at the Rotorua Museum. She is Te Arawa, as is Michael Staite, another artist in the exhibition.

"My pieces for the show represent transparency and the language of colour. Everything has a voice including colour. They're about acknowledging our cultural differences and embracing them at the same time because we live in a multicultural community. It doesn't matter what our skin colour, race, culture, ethnicity or creed is, at the end of the day we are all one. These pieces represent the ability to look deeper and go within. Be transparent, be clear and stand in your truth," said Staite.

More than 100 works will be featured, for sale at $90 each.


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* What: Matariki Celebration Exhibition

* Where: Helium Gallery, 1283 Tutanekai St

* When: Until June 30

* Admission: Free