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Aratoi: Our Journeys to Aotearoa


We came here on waka, ships and aeroplanes, guided by stars and maps.

Connected through water, flight, movement and light the artworks in Aratoi – Our Journeys to Aotearoa examine how we have journeyed to Aotearoa/New Zealand and the ways in which our identities have been shaped by this place.

Niki Hasting McFall’s The Long White Cloud looks at the creation of the world – when Tane (god of the forest) pushed apart Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother). The hibiscus flowers that form the lampshades reference discovery of Aotearoa (long white cloud) by Polynesian explorers centuries ago and the mid-century lamp stands also refer to the period in which her own Samoan grandparents migrated to New Zealand.

Gordon Walter’s Arahura is named for a legendary waka, Laura Hereford’s The Little Emigrant depicts the journey of a young girl to New Zealand in the Nineteenth Century and Sydney Parkinson’s engraving exemplifies the illustrations he made as a result of his journey to New Zealand on the HMS Endeavour when he became one of the first European artist to depict the landscape, tangata whenua (indigenous people), as well as the flora and fauna of Aotearoa. 

We continue to journey through this place, no matter how long our tūpuna (ancestors) have called Aotearoa their home. In Hikoi Boe Rewiti Arapere’s stencilled figure walks through an urban environment, a reflection of the incredible changes that Aotearoa has undergone in the last two centuries. Through this work we are able to reflect on the evolution of the ways we journey through this country – from forests to concrete. 

Before humans occupied this place it was a land of forests and birds. Bill Hammond’s All Along The Heaphy Highway imagines a New Zealand in which humans and primordial birds co-exist as well as revealing the striking impact humans have had on this country through our occupation and altering of the landscape. Don Binney’s iconic Rosella Te Henga II depicts a species of parrot introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900s against the landscape of a beach at the top of the North Island/Te Ika a Maui. Birds and nature become proxies for humans and the ways in which we change and are changed by the places in which we live.

Conceived as an educational exhibition, from 10 August Aratoi – Our Journeys to Aotearoa will be transformed through the addition of artworks created by Nelson/Tasman school students in response to the exhibition.

John GULLY (English, b.1819, d.1888),  The Steeples, Westport , 1880, watercolour on paper. Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: the Bishop Suter Art Gallery Founding Donation, gifted by Mrs Amelia Suter in memory of her husband Bishop Andrew Burn Suter in 1895

John GULLY (English, b.1819, d.1888), The Steeples, Westport, 1880, watercolour on paper. Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: the Bishop Suter Art Gallery Founding Donation, gifted by Mrs Amelia Suter in memory of her husband Bishop Andrew Burn Suter in 1895