Tirohia Mai opens

18 June 2013: A fresh look at women in Aotearoa New Zealand

Thirteen chiefly women signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and this little known fact is the starting point for a new public programme at the National Library which considers where women stand now, how they got here, and how they see themselves in 2013.

Timed to coincide with the 120th anniversary of women winning the vote in 1893, and set against the backdrop of an international revival of interest in feminism, Tirohia Mai / Look At Us Now is the first exhibition in 20 years to focus on the contribution of women to making New Zealand what it is today and will be tomorrow.

Co-curated by Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner 2001 – 2011, and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Professor of Research and Development at Te Puawananga ki te Ao, University of Waikato, the programme draws primarily on the resources of the National Library. It also reflects some of the curators’ experiences, as they participated in the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s.

While acknowledging the enormous progress made over the past 40 years, including the removal of legal impediments to women’s equality, the curators say the exhibition intends to be provocative. Audiences are invited to think, interact and engage with questions about women today.

“For example, what relevance does the Treaty of Waitangi have to them? What does equality mean to young women and their communities? How do their lives differ from those of their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers - and their brothers? What affects and limits their choices and prospects? How will they shape the future?”

As part of this public programme focusing on women, the National Library is screening Night Shift, the 2012 award winning short film by Zia Mandviwalla about a woman night cleaner at Auckland Airport.

The third component in the programme is an exhibition of the work of Gladys Goodall, hailed as New Zealand’s first woman commercial photographer. For 40 years from 1960 Gladys Goodall, who is now 105 and living in Christchurch, produced tourist postcards for Whitcoulls.

Get in touch for more information. Alison Bartley, publicist, phone 027 4436123; Allen Walley, Department of Internal Affairs, phone 04 495 9351 or 027 384 3009; or Keith Thorsen, National Library, phone 04 470 4436.