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Wharehou 16-9


An exhibition of new works by students and staff from Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Art and Design

The Māoriland gallery Toi Matarau is to host the second of its 2020 Matariki exhibitions with new works from students of the highly respected Gisborne based art school Toihoukura.

The Gallery and online exhibition called WHAREHOU is showcasing emerging Māori artists and supporting the broader context of contemporary Māori art education and Māori art practice.

Up to 20 students and staff of Toihoukura will travel to Ōtaki to present the stories behind their new works created during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The kaitiaki of Toi Matarau, Maakarita Paku says WHAREHOU is a collection of 50 mixed medium artworks by 35 Toihoukura artists and will be Toihoukura’s first invitational exhibition in Ōtaki.

“It is an exciting opportunity to connect East Coast artists to artists here on our West Coast. We are honoured to be hosting Toihoukura at Toi Matarau.”

The Toihoukura students are from Certificate Year 1, Degree Years 1-3, Honours and Masters programs. Current tutors are Steve Gibbs, Erena Koopu, Makarini Solomon, Ayson Lewis, Melanie Baldwin, Ngaire Tuhua and Denise Te Hau.  Featured in Wharehou is also Tā Derek Arana Te Ahi Lardelli KNZM who is widely respected as a tāmoko artist,  painter, carver, kapa haka performer, composer, researcher and kaikōrero.


Tā Derek Lardelli, a noted Tā Moko artist, printmaker and sculptor, joined the programme as a senior tutor in 1992.  Sadly, Ivan died that same year, and his position was filled by renowned kowhaiwhai artist, Sandy Adsett.  Painter, Steve Gibbs, was appointed in 1994.  Together this teaching team developed a dynamic foundation programme, followed by an Advanced Diploma and, in January 2007, a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts was accredited and implemented.

While the school built its kaupapa from the strong arts traditions of Te Tairawhiti, the students throughout Toihoukura’s history have been an amalgamation of iwi from across the country.  Derek Lardelli and Steve Gibbs remained at the heart of the teaching team when in 2002 Sandy Adsett moved to Hastings to work within his own tribal area of Ngāti Kahungunu.

Christina (Tina) Hurihia Wirihana, the most recently appointed tutor, is a specialist in fibre and weaving, who has had an involvement with Toihoukura over many years.  Tina spent 17 years at Waiariki Polytechnic in the Visual Art and Design school.  Her last position was with the art faculty at Te Wānanga o Awanuiarangi in Whakatane, which spanned a 7-year period. She provides a high calibre of lecturing across all programmes introducing, developing and assisting with appropriate fibre related practices including sustainability of natural materials.

Toihoukura provides a nurturing environment based on manaakitanga (care and protection), and whanaungatanga (family foundation) within which the students develop their individual artistic practice.


The focus of Toihoukura is to ensure the continuing development of art forms that are specifically Māori.  This is promoted through the development of, and participation in an arts ‘wānanga’ learning environment that encourages the personal and professional development of every student.

The kaupapa of the programmes delivered within the school have been developed in direct response to the continuing need to strengthen Māori Art within a contemporary Māori context.

Cultural concepts and technical knowledge acquired through practical work and experience is analysed through wānanga learning.  Students are empowered to develop their own direction, vision and independence with regard to cultural expectations and conditions.

On-going exploration of traditional elements in Māori art and design ensures that students will develop a strong sense of imagery related to their own ancestral whakapapa (genealogy).