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Discovering Wāhine Māori Artists

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2022

More news for Cultural

Photo is taken from behind Year 8 students as stand in forecourt area outside the Christchurch Art Gallery looking at the colourful mural Kuīni of the Worlds which was painted by Xoë Hall.

Year 8 classes were immersed in art and creativity at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

The Year 8 classes were fascinated to learn about wāhine Māori artists during their visits to the Christchurch Art Gallery in June.

In the forecourt area outside the gallery, they viewed the stunning public mural, Kuīni of the Worlds, with its vibrant, colourful imagery celebrating atua wāhine. The mural was painted by talented Wellington painter, Xoë Hall (Kāi tahu), who is of Māori, Danish, Irish, and English descent.

In the forecourt area outside the gallery, they viewed the stunning public mural, Kuīni of the Worlds, with its vibrant, colourful imagery celebrating atua wāhine. The mural was painted by talented Wellington painter, Xoë Hall (Kāi tahu), who is of Māori, Danish, Irish, and English descent.

Once inside the gallery, the students compared Xoë’s work with how other artists have represented atua before, including Robyn Kahukiwa’s striking work My Ancestors Are Always With Me.

Then it was off to the Art Gallery’s education centre, where they created their own artworks representing a Māori atua of their choosing. Team 8 Leader, Morgan Sheppard, says the Art Gallery visits were a great combination of learning and creativity. “As the students viewed various paintings inside the Gallery, we asked them to reflect on our classroom learning, around the people and land of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Morgan says the visits tied in nicely with the new Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum. “We are linking our inquiry learning to some of the new curriculum, including studying the New Zealand Wars, Treaty of Waitangi, and integrating more use of Te Reo Māori in the classroom. With COVID-19 restrictions easing, we are excited to get the students out of the classroom more to explore these themes, with a return visit to the Art Gallery, a trip to Halswell Quarry, and an experience with Waka on Avon already planned.”

Te Reo Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum lead teacher in the Preparatory School, Mary Leota, runs one History lesson every second week with each Year 8 class, with the classroom teachers building on the learning the following week. “Mary has the energy of a pride of lions and is so passionate about delivering the new curriculum. We really appreciate having her expertise and knowledge in the Preparatory School, as she guides the classroom teachers, and provides us with some wonderful resources to work with.”

Students learn more about the wāhine Māori artists behind the incredible artwork at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

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