“Toi Tū Toi Ora is organised around the Māori creation narrative as a way to enter into a conversation about the importance of Māori art and artists, and to explore what unites these artists across space and time,” Nigel Borell.

Nigel Borell shares insights into the making of Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, the largest exhibition in the 132-year history of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. “It’s an exhibition that I pitched when I interviewed for the job back in 2015...because it had been 15 years or so since the last survey show of contemporary Māori art, it was really important that we checked in with contemporary Māori art as a movement and put a spotlight on those artists who have come around since."

The landmark Toi Tū Toi Ora is the first survey of Māori art at Auckland Art Gallery since Pūrangiaho: Seeing Clearly (2001) co-curated by Ngahiraka Mason and Ngarino Ellis. In this illustrated lecture, Nigel will reflect on how the curation and creation of Māori art has changed and what is called for now.

Following this will be a break with refreshments, before a kōrero between the Poneke based wāhine artists in Toi Tū Toi Ora.

Chaired by Huhana Smith, Neke Moa and Gina Matchitt reflect on their work and their insights into the exhibition, which includes 60 per cent female artists.

This event is presented alongside City Gallery Wellington's exhibition Every Artist, that highlights local, national, and international artists who rethink, remap, queer, and even gamify the history of art. Every Artist features paintings by Isiaha Barlow first shown in Pūrangiaho: Seeing Clearly, and Barlow’s series celebrating the ‘Mothers’ of contemporary Māori art – including Emily Karaka, Kāterina Mataira, Elizabeth Ellis, Shona Rapira-Davies and Kura Te Waru Rewiri, whose work prominently features in Toi Tū Toi Ora.

Thinking through Toi Tū Toi Ora

6pm Illustrated talk by Nigel Borell

6.45 Refreshments

7pm Artists talk

Nigel Borell is of Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whakatōhea tribal descent. He is a curator, writer, educator and artist specialising in Māori art in both customary and contemporary fields of research. Recent curatorial projects include co-curating with Zara Stanhope Moa Hunter Fashions by Areta Wilkinson, for 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, QAGOMA, Brisbane (2018) and The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, to deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2017). Current projects include the curatorium to Histōrias Indīgenas- Indigenous Histories at Museu de Art de (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (2023). And the large survey exhibition and publication Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2021), where he was also Curator Māori art from 2015-2020.

Gina Matchitt (Ngāti Rangitihi, Te Arawa, Ngāti Ngahere, Te Whakatōhea) studied jewellery at Unitec School of Design and has a Masters of Māori Visual Arts from Toi Oho Ki Apiti at Massey University, New Zealand. Her work draws on her Māori tribal affiliations, Te Arawa, Te Whakatohea and is a fusion of Māori and Pākehā (European) concepts. Matchitt’s work is primarily about reworking Māori pattern, techniques and language, usually by adapting customary woven pattern and utilising contemporary materials, such as recycled computer keys, stickers, photography, fabric and duct tape. Her work is held in New Zealand public collections such as Te Papa Tongarewa -The National Museum of New Zealand, Auckland Museum, The Dowse Art Museum and Auckland Art Gallery.

Neke Moa (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Ahuriri, Kai Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) is an Ōtaki based contemporary Māori jeweler and predominantly works with stone, pounamu (NZ jade) and locally sourced materials. She employs traditional techniques, such as hōanga (hand-held grinding stones), as well as uses electric machinery and diamond tools, and conceives of her practice as a spiritual continuation of a whakapapa that extends back to Te Ao Kōhatu (The Age of Stone). She participated in the Handshake mentoring project, working with both Peter Deckers and Karl Fritsch. Neke also represented Aotearoa at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guahan 2016.

Professor Huhana Smith (Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Te Rangitāwhia, Te Mateawa, Ngāti Kapumanawawhiti) is a visual artist, curator and principle investigator in research who engages in major environmental, trans-disciplinary, kaupapa Māori and action-research projects. She is co-principle investigator for research that includes mātauranga Māori methods with sciences to actively address freshwater quality and climate change concerns for coastal Māori lands in Horowhenua-Kāpiti. Huhana actively encourages the use of art and design’s visual systems combined in exhibitions, to expand how solutions might integrate complex issues and make the solutions more accessible for local communities.


  • Free


  • Tue 06 Jul


  • 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm


  • Civic Square, 101 Wakefield Street
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington