Red and white badge withthe words Pūkana on it.

Ngā Puna Waihanga

Nga Puna Waihanga is a great thing to inspire the young generation to carry on. I would not like to see it lost — Dr Rangimarie Hetet

Take an audio tour with Paul Diamond one of the curators of Pūkana. Paul shares stories and highlights from the exhibition.

Listen to Paul Diamond talk about ‘Ngā Puna Waihanga’ in Pūkana

  • Transcript — Nga Puna Waihanga

    And then moving into the next section of the exhibition, which is called Ngā Puna Waihanga, which has, sort of, got a double meaning. Ngā Puna Waihanga was an organisation coming together of Māori artists and writers in 1973, and it was quite unusual for art to be organised like that. That wasn't how European art was organised in New Zealand. But at that time, the Māori artists and writers wanted to come together. And they had these hui all around the country, and they have donated their collection to the Alexander Turnbull library.

    But the other double meaning for this is this idea of looking at the actual meaning of that, the puna. It's the, sort of, wellspring sources of growth and looking at the revival of Māori art. And just at the beginning of this section is a magnificent artwork by Para Matchitt that was actually purchased by the library, the National Library in 1987 – so the National Library used to have its own art collection – and it's called ‘Ka mate’. It's actual full name is: Ka mate, Ka ora! Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā! Upane, kaupane. Whiti te rā! From the haka, Ka mate.

    So it's linking back actually to the earlier section about haka and poi, that iconic nere, or haka, that's really well known in part because of our national rugby team, the All Blacks, but also acknowledging Para, one of our senior Māori artists, and also was the head of Ngā Puna Waihanga for many years.

    So in that section, we've got some examples of photos from Ngā Puna Waihanga hui and we've decided to focus on two aspects of Ngā Puna Waihanga. Taonga pūoro revival, so Ariana Tikao who helped curate this exhibition and is also a Taonga pūoro player herself, she found a sequence of photos actually in Richard Nunns’ collection, which is a fantastic collection that Richard Nunns, a musician and performer and someone very involved in the revival of Taonga pūoro together with Hirini Melbourne.

    Richard donated his collection to the Turnbull, but in that collection there's photos of someone else. And this is a man called Te Mauri o Te Tiriti o Waitangi Tirikatene. So this is Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s brother playing the pūtōrino, one of the taonga pūoro. So these were negatives, and Ariana found these. And we've had them digitised, and they've been made into a fantastic frieze that's been printed so that you can actually see the whole sequence.

    We've got images of taonga pūoro at Ngā Puna Waihanga hui. We've got correspondence from Richard Nunns to Margaret Orbell. Now Margaret Orbell was a pakeha woman who did a huge amount of work on Māori myths and legends and a whole lot of different Māori kaupapa. Her collection was donated by her family after her death, and the letter is from Richard to Margaret asking if she had any information about taonga pūoro because he was getting ready to do a performance. This is in 1985, so it's great to think of how that revival kind of developed from there.

    And we've got a recording of it's called ‘Traditional music of the Māori’, and it featured this kuia Paeroa Wineera, who apparently was one of the last people before the revival who knew how to play taonga pūoro. And also coincidentally on that album is singing by a woman called Hannah Tatana who was one of the wonderful discoveries for us in this exhibition, a contralto singer who trained in New Zealand in the 1960s and is now based overseas. So she's another of the performers that we are featuring.

    And then finally in this Ngā Puna Waihanga section there are two key figures in Ngā Puna Waihanga that we are featuring, Hone Tuwhare, and we have an image, a beautiful image by Ans Westa. We have a series of images from Ans’ huge collection of photographs here. And then we've also got a man called Rowley Habib, who is a playwright, he was the first Māori to write a television drama for television and was a poet and writer as well. And we've got examples of their work here as well.

    And Hone is really famous for a poem called ‘No Ordinary Sun’, which has been reprinted many, many times. And it was act of protest about nuclear war at that time was a huge concern. And just acknowledging that performance includes things like poetry and television drama.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

  • Transcript — Nga Puna Waihanga

    And then moving into the next section of the exhibition, which is called Ngā Puna Waihanga, which has, sort of, got a double meaning. Ngā Puna Waihanga was an organisation coming together of Māori artists and writers in 1973, and it was quite unusual for art to be organised like that. That wasn't how European art was organised in New Zealand. But at that time, the Māori artists and writers wanted to come together. And they had these hui all around the country, and they have donated their collection to the Alexander Turnbull library.

    But the other double meaning for this is this idea of looking at the actual meaning of that, the puna. It's the, sort of, wellspring sources of growth and looking at the revival of Māori art. And just at the beginning of this section is a magnificent artwork by Para Matchitt that was actually purchased by the library, the National Library in 1987 – so the National Library used to have its own art collection – and it's called ‘Ka mate’. It's actual full name is: Ka mate, Ka ora! Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā! Upane, kaupane. Whiti te rā! From the haka, Ka mate.

    So it's linking back actually to the earlier section about haka and poi, that iconic nere, or haka, that's really well known in part because of our national rugby team, the All Blacks, but also acknowledging Para, one of our senior Māori artists, and also was the head of Ngā Puna Waihanga for many years.

    So in that section, we've got some examples of photos from Ngā Puna Waihanga hui and we've decided to focus on two aspects of Ngā Puna Waihanga. Taonga pūoro revival, so Ariana Tikao who helped curate this exhibition and is also a Taonga pūoro player herself, she found a sequence of photos actually in Richard Nunns’ collection, which is a fantastic collection that Richard Nunns, a musician and performer and someone very involved in the revival of Taonga pūoro together with Hirini Melbourne.

    Richard donated his collection to the Turnbull, but in that collection there's photos of someone else. And this is a man called Te Mauri o Te Tiriti o Waitangi Tirikatene. So this is Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan’s brother playing the pūtōrino, one of the taonga pūoro. So these were negatives, and Ariana found these. And we've had them digitised, and they've been made into a fantastic frieze that's been printed so that you can actually see the whole sequence.

    We've got images of taonga pūoro at Ngā Puna Waihanga hui. We've got correspondence from Richard Nunns to Margaret Orbell. Now Margaret Orbell was a pakeha woman who did a huge amount of work on Māori myths and legends and a whole lot of different Māori kaupapa. Her collection was donated by her family after her death, and the letter is from Richard to Margaret asking if she had any information about taonga pūoro because he was getting ready to do a performance. This is in 1985, so it's great to think of how that revival kind of developed from there.

    And we've got a recording of it's called ‘Traditional music of the Māori’, and it featured this kuia Paeroa Wineera, who apparently was one of the last people before the revival who knew how to play taonga pūoro. And also coincidentally on that album is singing by a woman called Hannah Tatana who was one of the wonderful discoveries for us in this exhibition, a contralto singer who trained in New Zealand in the 1960s and is now based overseas. So she's another of the performers that we are featuring.

    And then finally in this Ngā Puna Waihanga section there are two key figures in Ngā Puna Waihanga that we are featuring, Hone Tuwhare, and we have an image, a beautiful image by Ans Westa. We have a series of images from Ans’ huge collection of photographs here. And then we've also got a man called Rowley Habib, who is a playwright, he was the first Māori to write a television drama for television and was a poet and writer as well. And we've got examples of their work here as well.

    And Hone is really famous for a poem called ‘No Ordinary Sun’, which has been reprinted many, many times. And it was act of protest about nuclear war at that time was a huge concern. And just acknowledging that performance includes things like poetry and television drama.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Discover more from the exhibition

Ngā Puna Waihanga

I te ngahuru tau 1960 he waipuke tonu te heke mai a ngāi Māori i ō rātou papakāinga i te tuawhenua ki roto i ngā tāone nui o te motu. He wā tēnei i harikoa ai, i mataku ai te hunga tauhou ki te tāone, ko te kaikiri tētahi mate nui, me te noho mokemoke.

Ka tupu ngā karapu iwi-katoa, noho tāone hei pou herenga mō te hunga nukunuku, pēnei i a Ngāti Pōneke i Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara. Ka rongo te Māori i te whanaungatanga i aua karapu. He mea tino nui ngā waiata, ngā haka me ērā atu momo whakaputanga hei huarahi mō aua rōpū kia puritia ā rātou tikanga tuku iho.

I te tau 1973 ka whānau mai ko te Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Association (nō muri mai ka tapā ki te ingoa o Ngā Puna Waihanga). He tini ngā kaimahi toi Māori, ngā kaituhi, ngā kaiwhakaari, ngā kaikanikani, ngā kaiwhakatangitangi, ngā kaiwaiata, me ngā kaikōrero paki i poipoia e tēnei rōpū.

I mutu noa ngā hui ā-tau o Ngā Puna Waihanga i te ngahuru tau mai i 1990, heoi anō, kei te kitea tonutia ngā hua o ngā mahi a te rōpū. Ka taea e ngā rōpū toi Māori pēnei i Atamira Dance Company (ka tae ki tōna tau 20 hei te tau 2020) te tātai i ōna whakapapa ki tēnei huinga kaimahi toi Māori.

Revival and renewal

In the 1960s, the movement of Māori from their rural papakāinga into the nation’s cities gained momentum. This meant both excitement and trepidation as they faced issues such as racism and isolation.

The pan-tribal, urban-based clubs which sprang up in reponse to the shift to the cities, such as Ngāti Pōneke in Wellington, provided a sense of whanaungatanga. Waiata, haka and other forms of expression were important for these rōpū as ways to retain their cultural practices.

In 1973 the New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Association (later Ngā Puna Waihanga) came into being. This organisation nurtured many Māori artists, writers, actors, dancers, musicians and storytellers.

Ngā Puna Waihanga annual hui stopped in the 1990s, but the group’s legacy lives on. Māori art organisations such as the Atamira Dance Company (celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020) can trace its origins back to this coming together of Māori artists.

Two men moving rhythmically will they play wind instruments.
Exhibitions items hanging on the wall in the Pūkana exhibition.

Feature image at top of page: Badges from the opening of the Pūkana exhibition. Photo by Mark Beatty.