He poroporoaki ki a Arnold Manaaki Wilson

Dr Arnold Manaaki Wilson, taken in his Auckland Studio in 2007 by Scott Venning.
Arts Foundation Tribute - Arnold Manaaki Wilson was a major presence on the contemporary Maori art scene for half a century.

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Courtesy of The Arts Foundation

Dr Arnold Manaaki Wilson - Ngai Tuhoe & Te Arawa | MNZM | Arts Foundation Icon - has passed away. Our condolences to Arnold's whanau and friends.

Courtesy of The Arts Foundation

Dr Arnold Manaaki Wilson - Ngai Tuhoe & Te Arawa | MNZM | Arts Foundation Icon - has passed away. Our condolences to Arnold's whanau and friends.


Kua urupoki!  Kua tupoki!
Kua tahuri nga waka o Mataatua, o Te Arawa!
Na te hau Okiwa ranei, na te hau kotonga ranei i huri ai?
E, na te ringa hao tangata o Aitua makitaunu, o Aitua nopenope!
He kura ka tangihia, he kura ka taureretia.
Kia whakataukitia ake i konei, "Aue taukuri e!"

Manaaki e; kei te ringa apu i nga kura o te kete aronui, nou e tu ana i te mata o te whenua, noho ai ko o mahi toi hei whakamihinga ma te tini, hei whakamaharotanga ma te mano.  'Nei o iwi, o hapu, o uri, o apataki puta noa e moteatea nei, e apakura nei i to rirohanga, e Ta.  Nga maramara i te akinga o to toki kaore e kitea ano; te koreretanga o to whao e kore e rongohia ano.  Engari ko to mana ia, ka hau tonu i te ao, haere noa nga tau.  No reira, e koro, haere ki te po whakaroau, ki te po whakamotu, ki te wahi e kiia nei ko te okiokitanga o taua, o te tangata.  E moe i te aunga o to moe, Manaaki, e moe, e moe, moe mai ra.

"Arnold Manaaki Wilson was a major presence on the contemporary Maori art scene for half a century. He was among the Maori art educators working in Northland who joined forces in 1958 to present (in Auckland) the first exhibition of contemporary art by Maori artists. The movement pioneered by those artists Ralph Hotere, Katerina Mataira, Muru Walters, Selwyn Wilson and Arnold Wilson has long since burgeoned into a thriving and distinctive enterprise, drawing in hundreds of gifted Maori artists, involving curators, writers, dealers and public and private collectors, and delighting untold numbers of viewers at home and abroad. As ambassador, advocate, agent provocateur, educator, and exemplar, Arnold Wilson played a pivotal role in the positioning of such art in national and international forums."  
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki,  Arts Foundation Governor

Arnold was born in 1928 in the isolated Bay of Plenty township Ruatoki. He won a scholarship to attend Wesley College in Paerata and went on to study art at the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts. Graduating in 1955, Arnold was the first Maori to gain a Diploma in Fine Arts, with first class honours in sculpture.

Arnold went to Teachers Training College and there followed a successful and long career in art education, leading a cultural revival of Maori art in schools and in the community. Along with other contemporary artists such as Ralph Hotere, Marilyn Webb and Sandy Adsett, he questioned the orthodoxies and practices of both Maori and Pakeha art traditions. Arnold did not work from a single cultural base. With Maori and Scottish ancestry, he drew upon his bicultural background to produce his work. As a sculptor he experimented with many traditional and non-traditional materials, working with metal, vivid paint and wood in various forms. He was one of the most important mentors of the Modernist Maori art movement within New Zealand.

Arnold exhibited extensively in New Zealand and overseas including Recent New Zealand Sculpture (1968) at the Auckland City Art Gallery; the South Pacific Festival of Arts (1976) in Rotorua; Ten Maori Artists (1978) Manawatu Art Gallery in Palmerston North; Haongia te Taonga (1986) Waikato Art Museum in Hamilton; Kohia Ko Taikaka Anake (1990) National Art Gallery in Wellington; and the United States tour of Te Waka Toi: Contemporary Maori Art from New Zealand (1992).

Arnold received a Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka/Sir King Ihaka Award from Te Waka Toi in 2001 for new directions in contemporary Maori art.   Arnold was a Toi Iho artist who was awarded honorary status of Te Ara Whakarei in recognition of his creative accomplishments in 2002.  Toi Iho is the Maori-made cultural trademark of authenticity and quality.  He received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2007, an honorary doctorate by AUT University, Auckland, acknowledging his work in education and the arts in 2008 and he was made a  Member of the said Order (MNZM) for services to Maori and the arts, as announced in the 2010 Queens Birthday honours list.

After retirement from the position of Director of the Cross-Cultural Community Involvement Art Programme in the Department of Education, he continued his educational role as kaumatua working with young urban Maori and as advisor to a number of public art programmes. He worked for many years to establish the Awataha urban marae complex in Auckland.

Related story: Maori Party Statement

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

5 May 2012

The Big Idea Editor Cathy AronsonĀ is a journalist, photo journalist and digitalĀ editor.

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