‘Karaka's subject matter focused on her deep involvement with recent and current claims made to the Waitangi Tribunal. The works voice a plea that the history of Māori people in Auckland, in particular that of her own iwi, Ngāi Tai, not be forgotten. They speak of our obligations to protect our city environment and the waters of the Hauraki Gulf from the clutches of commercial interests. Crucially they remind us that if the Treaty of Waitangi is to be honoured then it is, at the moment, by claims brought by iwi to the Waitangi Tribunal that compensation for loss of land, loss of waterways, loss of livelihood, can be sought and negotiated.’
– Nanette Morris
In 2002, Emily Karaka was invited to present an exhibition which marked the opening of the new arts centre for Manukau City: te tuhi - the mark. This invitation was to acknowledge and support the important role that Ngāi Tai iwi and Emily Karaka have in the development of arts and arts centre in the city and the important contribution they have made over the years.
Te Tuhi a Manawatere
te tuhi - the mark is the name gifted by Ngāi Tai iwi to the new arts centre which incorporates the Fisher Gallery and the Pakuranga Arts and Cultural Centres. The name refers to the legend of Manawatere, a Māori voyager and explorer who is said to have arrived in the Hauraki Gulf on the back of a Taniwha. Landing at the beach at Owairoa/Howick, he made his tuhi or mark on a pōhutakawa tree, using red ochre (karamea), as a sign to those following that he had been there.
The exhibition Claims Wai 423 and 357 was exhibited in the Centre Gallery between Monday 28 April and Sunday 27 May and comprised 7 large works – 6 diptychs and 1 triptych.
Claims Wai 423 and 357 was extremely well received by the public with over 4500 people visiting at the time of the show. Thirty-two gallery tours of groups were undertaken which explored art historical and political themes. These groups included community artists from Manukau and Auckland cities, retirement villages, U3A groups and secondary schools and tertiary art students. In addition, a great number of primary and intermediate age school tours were taken through the show, exploring environmental themes and the use of colour to portray emotion.
Emily gave a riveting floor talk on Sunday 27 May addressing the many controversial political issues which arise from her work in an extremely considered manner.
We are extremely proud of our association with Emily Karaka and Ngāi Tai iwi and thank them for their ongoing support of te tuhi - the mark.