Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: HE Mark Gilbert, Ambassador of the United States of America ; Rino Tirakatene, MP for Te Tai Tonga; Chris Kelly, Chancellor of Massey University; and Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor, Tony Parker - tēnā koutou katoa.
It’s a great pleasure to be here today to be part of this superb event.
The creation of great art requires imagination, talent, diligence and hard work. More prosaically, it requires a time and a place.
Janine and I had been wanting to do something concrete to support the arts and a place was something that we could offer. After some hard work by one of our staff members, Barbara Lewis, and some cooperative effort with Massey University, particularly with Professor Claire Robinson and Sue Elliott, we were very pleased to welcome Ross Hemera to Government House and to see an underutilised house on the grounds transformed into a place of vibrancy and creativity.
‘Pakau Taua’ by Ross Hemera is the first work to be produced by an artist living and working at Government House. I’m pleased to say it will not be the only work.
I’d like to officially announce the creation of a new Artist in Residence Programme at Government House – Matairangi Mahi Toi - focussing on Māori and Pasifika visual artists.
The name Matairangi Mahi Toi was chosen by the residency’s inaugural artist, Ross Hemera. Even before Ross explained his thinking behind the name, it just seemed an exquisite fit.
Matairangi, references Government House’s position on a ridgeline running off Mount Victoria – Te Ranga–a-Hiwi - overlooking the city. And Mahi Toi is the creative practice and virtuosic skills of the artist, pursued in the name of excellence.
‘Matairangi Mahi Toi’ will initially consist of up to three residencies per year. Artists will be able to live and work in a house in the grounds of Government House.
The programme will be administered by the Massey University College of Creative Arts. The intention is to have one Māori and one Pasifika residency each year, and a third residency earmarked for special projects.
During my term as Governor-General, I’ve aimed to highlight the achievements of New Zealanders and the great work being done in all fields of endeavour. Our artists play an important role in telling our story and defining our character. It’s not always an easy path to follow.
This residency allows me and my successors in the role to encourage and promote visual arts by giving valuable, practical support. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the amazing work being done by Māori and Pasifika artists and to give them access to an inspiring creative environment.
One of the beauties of this residency is that it is not tied to any particular visual medium, while the special projects residency brings with it the potential for collaboration across disciplines. There is great potential for exciting new projects and I can’t wait to see the resulting works.
There is a whakatauki that says “Kāhore taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini - We cannot succeed without the support of those around us.” As one of your near neighbours, I am pleased to be able to offer my support to Massey University and the many artists who will benefit from this programme.
And so there are some acknowledgements to make. First, thank you to the Massey University and Government House teams, especially Claire Robinson, Sue Elliott and Barbara Lewis, and the other people who have worked to make Matairangi Mahi Toi a reality. Secondly, thank you Ross for your contribution to the programme, by being the first resident artist, by helping to define the programme’s ethos and for setting an artistic standard of excellence. I hope the time you spent at Government House continues to inspire you.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.