New Shows Open at Mahara Gallery

Te whenua, the land; Paraparaumu Beach children’s creations

Te Whenua, the land, is the 5th Mahara Gallery-Nga Manu Children’s art and environment project, working with a Kāpiti school and Nga Manu Nature Reserve. This year’s school is Paraparaumu Beach Primary, with 160+ children.

The generous support of the Philipp Family Foundation enables the children to have a day trip to Nga Manu and Mahara, followed by classroom art workshops with Ōtaki-based artist Michelle Backhouse, poet Lindsay Rabbitt and rapper/filmmaker Te Kupu, Around 30 children can be viewed on film reading their poetry and performing their own raps during the exhibition.

The Philipp Family Foundation was set up in 2006 to support research, education, programme development and services for the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Its logo, illustrating a Kāpiti Island robin sitting on a budding branch, with the motto ‘Everything in life is connected” is intended to encapsulate the interdependence for health and wellbeing of human, environmental, conservation, ecological, heritage and aesthetic factors.

The PFF see this project as an ‘ innovative and fascinating annual art project involving nature, different environmental themes and primary schools on the Kāpiti Coast. ….. The standard of artworks depicted by the children has illustrated beautifully and with great sensitivity what qualities our local, natural environment has to offer us, heightened our interest in these qualities and what we can attain for our wellbeing from engaging with them. …. the artworks illustrate beautifully the fundamental qualities children have and that in adulthood for our own health and wellbeing we sometimes need to recapture. They include: imagination; enthusiasm; awe; wonder; spontaneous expressions; a sense of playfulness; and creativity.’

Earlier this year 60 children’s works were presented in Parliament’s Gallery space, Bowen House, showing the previous four years’ award winning artworks selected from 12 schools and over 800 Kāpiti students. The earlier projects were Native Habitats, 2012; Wai Ora; Water Life, 2013; Wai Ora ki Tonga, 2014; Nga Manu; the birds. The books accompanying the exhibitions have also travelled widely to the UK and Europe and been distributed also across the Pacific.


Within the broader theme of Te Whenua, we developed six themes: The sky, water, mountain, bush, garden and soil. On Saturday October 1 during the school holidays the artist Michelle Backhouse will be running a free children’s art workshop from 10.30-12 noon so that other children can experience one of the techniques developed for the theme of Soil, using Bush Collage, which appears in the exhibition. Bookings are requested as numbers are limited to 30, please phone 902 6242 or email [email protected]

A handsome new book page book reproducing all of the children’s art and poetry, will be launched later that morning at 12 noon.


For Discover Kāpiti Heritage Month which features nine Kāpiti Coast museums, Mahara Gallery is featuring five early paintings by Frances Hodgkins and Girolamo P. Nerli borrowed from the Field Collection and Frances Hodgkins curator Avenal McKinnon.

The Field Collection is a unique family art collection which has been held on the Kāpiti Coast for over a hundred years, established initially in Dunedin by artist and art patron William Mathew Hodgkins. The artworks came to Kāpiti with his daughter Isabel, sister of New Zealand’s best loved expatriate artist, Frances Hodgkins. Isabel married farmer and lawyer Will Field, and they became great supporters of Frances Hodgkins once she left New Zealand to pursue her development as a professional artist in 1901. Frances Hodgkins did achieve real success and critical recognition as a leading British modernist painter, and never returned home again after 1913. She died in England in 1947, and her ashes were later brought back and interred with other family members in Waikanae Cemetery, originally the site of the family’s Ngarara Farm.

Girolamo P. Nerli was a lively professional Italian painter who came to New Zealand in the 1890s and had a big impact on the Dunedin art community, including Frances Hodgkins who became one of his students, with his impressionistic approach to portraiture.


Curator Janet Bayly gives a floortalk in this show on Saturday 10 September at 2pm, entry free, all welcome.

Both exhibitions run until 9 October 2016