where currents meet
12 October 2023 - 31 October 2025
Huikaau – where currents meet celebrates the past, present, and future of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection – Aotearoa’s first civic collection of art, which was established in Ōtepoti Dunedin in 1884. This exhibition upholds the stories and ideas carried within the collection, welcomes new arrivals, and continues to work in partnership to bring Māori and indigenous perspectives to the fore.
The Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection is underpinned by a belief in the power of art, in the support of bold and innovative art practice both in Aotearoa and globally, and in the capacity of the collection to uphold stories of people and community across time. This exhibition introduces the Paemanu Art Collection, a loan collection of contemporary works by Kāi Tahu artists that is being presented within the Gallery’s permanent collection for the first time.
Developed collaboratively, Huikaau begins with works that connect with mana whenua relationships to this whenua, extending from Te Tai o Araiteuru to the inland regions. This opens into an expanded introduction to the collection, acknowledging its founding ambitions and the place into which it arrived. Subsequent galleries explore the collection as a space of power and potential of art – to carry stories, to disrupt conventions, to innovate and transform. Continuing work to address historic biases, the exhibition highlights the work of women artists across time, bringing a range of new and unexpected works to public view.
Throughout this exhibition works by Kāi Tahu artists act as nohoaka – a unique pathway through which to explore the Gallery collection. Nohoaka are important to Kāi Tahu as sites of occupation along navigational routes through Te Waipounamu. In Huikaau they provide sites of pause and reflection, creating space for new voices and contributors.
This exhibition has been developed through conversation with a wide range of contributors. We would like to acknowledge Te Rūnaka o Ōtākou and Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki, and in particular Claire Kaahu White, Robert Sullivan, and Paulette Tamati-Elliffe for their support in the development of the exhibition. Our thanks go to Paemanu: Ngāi Tahu Contemporary Visual Arts, who have placed their collection into our care. We would like to thank writers who have responded to our invitation to participate, and to those who have granted permission for texts to be republished. We also acknowledge the support of the Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, and the Somerville whānau, for the loan of work for this exhibition.