New art gallery celebrates local partnership
Portraits of local Māori are among the taonga (treasures) in a new art gallery at The Beach House at Pacific Coast Village in Mount Maunganui.
Generus Living Group and Mangatawa Pāpāmoa Blocks Incorporated formed a unique partnership in the development of both the Pacific Coast and Pacific Lakes retirement villages and the gallery is a further celebration of this partnership.
“The inspiration for the Mangatawa Gallery was to create a space that captures the stories of the whenua (land) and its people, providing insight and meaning into the cultural heritage and whakapapa (genealogy) of the land on which our villages are built,” says Generus Living Group director Graham Wilkinson.
The portraits – created by Soldiers Road Portraits – are intergenerational and feature whānau dressed in traditional Māori dress.
In addition to the portraits of past and present members of Ngā Potiki, the gallery shares the legend of Mangatawa and includes a permanent exhibition of taonga including the shell middens and other artefacts from the archaeological excavations that took place as part of the village development.
“The partnership is committed to recognising and celebrating the mana whenua (indigenous people of the land) in a meaningful way,” says Graham.
“It is important that the gallery presented with life and energy, and provided a sense of connection and pride. It is a perfect addition to The Beach House at Pacific Coast Village.”
Graham says the intergenerational perspective of the gallery also reflects the village community of Pacific Coast - the wisdom of years, and the cycle of life.
“It captures the essence of whānau, and its importance - acknowledging the connections to the past, present and future."
The opening of the gallery follows the addition last year of a new pouwhenua (sculpted post) by prominent local artist Kereama Taepa at the start of the 250-metre beach boardwalk on Maranui Street opposite the village.
The portraits in the Mangatawa Gallery feature whānau in traditional Māori dress.
The constructed boardwalk provides access to Pāpāmoa Beach for village residents and the public, and includes information panels on the history of the area, incorporating Mangatawa, Hikurangi, Kopukairoa and te rohe Kiwa (Pacific Coast), as well as the vegetation of the coastal dune system.
The Generus and MPBI partnership has also launched an annual scholarship for a Mangatawa student to train as a primary school teacher.
The Ebba Te Tua Scholarship recognises respected teacher and kuia Ebba Te Tua who taught at Arataki School in Mount Maunganui for nearly 30 years.
She was instrumental in establishing the bilingual/Māori immersion unit at the school and was an inspiration to other Māori teachers.
“Ebba attended several functions at Pacific Coast Village before her passing in 2018 and was given a front row seat at the opening of The Beach House,” says Graham.
“At that function, I made a promise to her and the other Mangatawa kaumatua who were present that Generus would always respect the land, deal with Mangatawa transparently and with respect, and would do its best to maximise the outcome for both parties."
MPBI chairman Kevin Haua says the village has successfully respected the mana of their land, while also adding value by creating opportunities and providing for Mangatawa shareholders in the future.