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Venice Biennale Forum

Issue date: 
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, CVO, QSO

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.

Kia ora tātou katoa.

Welcome to Government House and thank you for accepting our invitation to come here today.  I am delighted that the idea of holding a forum for emerging artists has come to fruition.

You have all been selected because of your talent and potential to be leaders in your field.  You have your own stories to tell and the question is – how do you get them out to the wider world?

At today’s forum, you will be able to hear first-hand how others have done this. I hope that in ten years’ time, some of you will have your work in Venice and documenta.

Supporting New Zealand’s arts and culture is of huge interest to David and me, and I am keen to do what I can to put a spotlight on New Zealand art practice during my term as Governor-General.

We see cultural activity as a point of connection where we examine what it is to be human – and what matters to us – individually, and collectively, in a particular time and place.

This transaction was confirmed for me in a powerful way during my visit to Niue and the Cook Islands last month – two small island nations, geographically quite close to each other, but with such unique and contrasting cultural expression.

In Niue, I was fortunate to see a stunning exhibition of works by John Pule, Kenneth Green and Susannah Sionetuato, side by side with the most delicate and skilful traditional weaving – and in Rarotonga, to unveil an extraordinary carved rock sculpture by Michel Tuffery and a massive carved gateway commemorating soldiers who served with New Zealand forces during the First World War.

What both of these cultural experiences had in common was the participation of Pasifika artists – Michel Tuffery and John Pule – who have a strong connection with New Zealand and whose works  examine their cultural heritage and identity – here and in the Pacific.

I am delighted that Lisa Reihana’s work, which also examines similar themes, will get the international exposure it deserves at the Venice Biennale.

On Saturday, it was exciting to see documenta opening in Kessel, Germany and Athens – and featuring, for the very first time ever, works from New Zealand, by Nathan Pohio, the Mata Aho Collective and Ralph Hotere.

This is further confirmation that just as our musicians, singers, film-makers and actors can have international careers, so too can our visual artists.

We are very fortunate to have the Mata Aho Collective here at the forum to talk about their experience of getting to documenta.

My sincere thanks to the good people of Creative New Zealand, Heather Galbraith and the staff of the various institutions represented here today – and the other panellists who have come along to inform, advise and inspire.

I don’t want to hold proceedings up any further. I will join you later in the day to hear what has come out of the presentations and discussions. Welcome again, and please enjoy your afternoon.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 11 April 2017

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