A nationwide search is on for eight artworks by renowned Māori artist Robyn Kahukiwa, which will be shown as part of an exhibition being developed as a collaboration between The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata and Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North. The exhibition, titled Tohunga Mahi Toi will re-present and re-contextualize Kahukiwa's highly influential Wahine Toa series (1980-82) within her larger practice for a new generation. It will be shown first in Wellington from 22 August 2024 to 10 November 2024 at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata and then will start its nationwide tour showing at Te Manawa from 7 December 2024 to 25 March 2025.

    Born in Sydney in 1938, Robyn is of Ngāti Porou (Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Konohi, Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare, Te Whānau-a-Te Aotawarirangi), and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti descent. Curator Roma Pōtiki “Robyn Kahukiwa is one of Aotearoa’s most acclaimed Māori painters. She confirms the realness of whakapapa, that confirmation of identity that links us to each other and the wider world. In showing the strength and struggles of Māori people she critiques inequities while promoting activism.”

    Since the early 1970s, Robyn has explored questions of heritage, identity, and sovereignty central to the Māori experience and relevant to Indigenous people internationally. Best known as a painter, she has also produced prints, drawings, and sculpture. Her practice ranges across diverse subjects, including colonialism and the dispossession of Indigenous people, customs and pūrākau, whakapapa and motherhood. She has works in collections all over the world.

    “We have identified eight works which we currently cannot locate. These works were painted by Robyn in the early 1980s and have likely gone into private collections, but there is no trail to be able to find them. We would appreciate anyone who has any knowledge of the works whereabouts to contact the gallery” said Jaenine Parkinson, Director of the NZ Portrait Gallery.

    The missing works include:
    - The earth lay in a womb of darkness”. Pencil on paper, 430 x 620mm.
    - The Earth Mother. Pencil on paper, 260 x 550mm.
    - Hineahuone. Oil on board, 1180 x 1180mm.
    - Mahuika, Kōnui, Kōroa, Māpere, Mānawa and Tōiti. Pencil on paper, 510 x 300mm.
    - Hinenuitepō. Oil on board, 1180 x 1180mm.
    - Great Lady of the Night. Pencil on paper, 680 x 510mm.

    The gallery will be running the campaign on social media via Instagram and Facebook which will include images of the works they're trying to locate.

    For more information or to contact the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, here.