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Mataaho Collective win at the Venice Biennale highlights Māori artists on global stage

Rhiannon Clarke -

Mataaho Collective's significant achievement at the Venice Biennale highlights the influence of indigenous Māori artists on a global scale, as noted by University of Auckland art historian, Associate Professor Caroline Vercoe.

Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, Bridget Reweti and Terri Te Tau were declared the recipients of the prestigious Golden Lion award for their outstanding work 'Takapau' at the Venice Biennale.

The award was presented on April 21, recognising them as the Best Participant in the International Exhibition for 'Stranieri Ovunque' - Foreigners Everywhere.

Mataaho Collective's major win Takapau' at Te Papa Tongarewa consists of 200 square metres of woven reflective truck strops. (Image: Ben Stewart)

Ms Baker represents Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai and Ngāti Toa Rangātira, Ms Hudson hails from Ngāti Awa and Ngāi Tūhoe, Ms Reweti belongs to Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi, while Ms Te Tau is affiliated with Rangitāne ki Wairarapa.

The installation 'Takapau' at Te Papa Tongarewa consists of 200 square metres of woven reflective truck strops, curated by Dr Nina Tonga. It pays homage to exquisite ceremonial woven mats, the studies of Dr Ngahuia Murphy, and the artistic legacy of Kura Te Waru Rewiri.

Dr Nina Tonga curated Takapau (Image: supplied)

"We are delighted to hear that Mataaho Collective has won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale this year,"

"This is a huge honour which acknowledges the importance of their work and collective art practice, and showcases the power of indigenous Māori artists to the world," said Associate Professor Vercoe.

She acknowledged renowned Māori artist Dr Maureen Lander, for her contributions. She served as a teacher at the University of Auckland for an extensive period and played a significant role as a mentor for the Mataaho Collective.

In 2021, Dr Lander and the Mataaho Collective were honoured with the prestigious Walters Prize.

Dr Vercoe also honoured curator Dr Tonga, celebrating the achievements and impact of the alumna and former lecturer from the Art History department at the University of Auckland.

University of Auckland art historian, Associate Professor Caroline Vercoe. (Image: supplied)

Dr Tonga completed her PhD studies at the University and now holds the position of assistant professor of Pacific Art History at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, Hawaii.

Prior to this, she served as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. During her tenure, she curated the groundbreaking Mataaho Collective exhibition called Te Puni Aroaro (2022) and commissioned the artwork Takapau.

Five Māori artists, including the Mataaho Collective, were invited to show at the international exhibition. (Image: Ben Stewart)

This artwork was not only selected by Andriano Pedrosa, the Curator of the Biennale, but also received the esteemed Golden Lion award.

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