• Natalie Robertson

St Paul St Gallery is proud to present Tātara e Maru Ana – The Sacred Rain Cape of Waiapu, an exhibition that brings together new and recent works from Natalie Robertson, Ngāti Porou artist and photographer, culminating her PhD research from 2017-2021.

Centuries ago, Tamokai of the inland Te Aowera people spoke to his kinsman Kōkere and said: ‘“Hoake tāua ki te Waiapu tātara e maru ana — “Let us go to Waiapu, where the rain cape is thick.” With its reference to a woven rain cape, usually made of harakeke, this Ngāti Porou whakatauākī speaks of the shelter provided by the forested Waiapu valley. Today, her ‘rain cape’ is now threadbare due to deforestation more than a century ago. In response, Ngāti Porou have set forth the vision to revitalise Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua. This exhibition offers a record of an ancestral tīpuna landscape as it is today. Hope comes in the form of a red-tipped dawn—te atā kura.

Each year, Natalie returns to whānau land at Omaewa, to strengthen her ties to the whenua. Omaewa, is just north of Port Awanui, family land belonging to Robertson, a member of Te Whānau a Hineauta, Te Whānau a Pōkai. This frequent returning rebuilds old family connections and relationships and deepens her knowledge of place.

Natalie Robertson is a photographic, moving image artist, writer and Senior Lecturer at AUT University, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) of Ngāti Porou and Clann Dhònnchaidh iwi/bones/tribes/clans. Natalie’s research terrain and artistic practice draws on Māori knowledge practices, Ngāti Porou oral customs, cultural landscapes, and historic archives to engage with indigenous relationships to land and place. Centring Waiapu—the ancestral river of Ngāti Porou—world-famous for its erosion, her work responses to tribal aspirations for environmental reinvigoration. Natalie explores a history of photography in Ngāti Porou to show how lens-based image making can enact Mātauranga Waiapu: cultural knowledge systems specific to this place and oriented to the restoration of the Waiapu river and the wider taiao or environment.

Recent exhibitions include Toi Tū, Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery 2020-21; 15th annual Nuit Blanche Toronto 2020; and, To Make /Wrong/ Right/ Now Honolulu Biennial 2019.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday, 10am – 5pm
  • Saturday, 12pm - 4pm


  • 40 St Paul Street
  • Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland