‘When does protest become art? Defacing an English version of the Treaty of Waitangi' was the title of Mark Amery’s recent interview with Te Waka Hourua's Cally O'Neill on Radio New Zealand. Together, they discuss the result of the activism in Te Papa’s Tiriti exhibition by members of the artist/activist group Te Waka Hourua on December 11 2023, and the participation of Enjoy Contemporary Gallery - creating A3 posters of the redacted Treaty of Waitangi, which were sold with all proceeds directed to support the group’s legal costs.

Talking through the captivating tension of when art becomes activism – and activism becomes art – they mention the ArtNow Essay, WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND - in which eighteen contributors – artists and arts professionals – offered their thoughts as 2023 drew to a close.  In her introduction to the writings, commissioning editor, Christina Barton cites the actions of Te Waka Houra and Enjoy Contemporary as a memorable demonstration of “the idea that art can lead debate and effect change” and talks about how this played out and what it says about our contemporary context.

Hear the RNZ conversation here
Read the ArtNow Essay WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Image: An artwork by activist group Te Waka Hourua from the exhibition 'Te Waka Hourua Whītiki, Mātike, Whakatika!' Photo: Te Waka Hourua