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Exhibition Celebrates the Legacy of Excellence

Author: Katrina Smit, Communication & Relationships Manager

Together Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu Hetet created, exhibited and taught the art forms that they had learned as young people from masters of Māori art. An upcoming exhibition at The Dowse Art Museum, Legacy: The Art of Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, will celebrate their excellence as individual artists: carver and weaver, partners in the revitalisation of customary Māori arts and champions of living a creative life. The exhibition will show from June 26 until October 30 2016.

 

 

Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Rangi Hetet, Lillian Hetet, Kataraina Hetet, Veranoa Hetet, Len Hetet, Sam Hauwaho, Te Kawau Mārō, (detail) 2002. Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Rangi Hetet, Lillian Hetet, Kataraina Hetet, Veranoa Hetet, Len Hetet, Sam Hauwaho, Te Kawau Mārō, (detail) 2002. Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Rangi and Erenora were married in 1960 at Waiwhetū in Lower Hutt, the home of Erenora's people the Hamua Hapu of Te Atiawa. A year earlier, Rangi who is Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Ngāti Maniapoto, came to Waiwhetū with several other men, led by master carver Hone Taiapa, to help carve the meeting house 'Arohanui ki te Tangata' (meaning 'Goodwill to All People'). A month after the meeting house was opened, Rangi and Erenora became the first couple to be married there. So began a collaborative artistic partnership that spanned 45 years, until Erenora's untimely death at the age of 65 in July 2006.

Courtney Johnston Director of The Dowse Art Museum says this very special exhibition honours the work of two important local artists and key influencers who are integral to the history of The Dowse. “This exhibition is testament to the whakatauki (proverb) ‘He toi whakairo, he mana tangata, where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity’."

"Works by Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet are exemplars of their artforms: they can be found throughout the world in private and public collections including The Dowse. In Legacy, the exhibition, traditional large scale pou sit alongside jewellery carved by Rangi for Erenora. Contemporary wall hangings and kākahu by Erenora will delight weavers while other exhibits will surprise.”

“Their influence goes beyond their own creative output. Their commitment to passing on customary practices and influencing the way Māori art is perceived is nothing short of visionary. One example among many is that the couple set up the first Te Whānau Paneke, a museum training scheme for Māori interns at the National Museum in Wellington. Under director James Mack, The Dowse also adopted the scheme. The Hetets recognised that institutions needed Māori equipped to care for taonga both old and new. Their vision saw the rise of a whole generation of Māori museum professionals.”

Rangi and Erenora taught art in many places including marae, wananga, the Institute of Māori Arts and Crafts, polytechnics and community based training establishments. In the early 1980s the Hetets jointly established the first marae-based training programmes in Māori carving and weaving for long-term unemployed Māori, and later developed the first degree programme in Māori Arts at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Of the many creative projects undertaken by the couple, it was the carving of several tribal waka (canoe) and the decorating of wharenui (meeting houses) that brought them the greatest personal satisfaction, because of the communities of people they worked with.

Among the outstanding artworks produced for public use and display in Legacy: The Art of Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu Hetet are more personal and domestic items. This includes clothing designed by Rangi for Erenora when she competed and won Mrs Wainuiomata, Mrs Hutt Valley and Mrs Wellington in Plunket’s Mrs New Zealand competition in 1972. The outfits designed by Rangi include items screenprinted and embroidered with Māori designs, evoking the creative life they lived together.

The legacy of Rangi and Erenora is continued by their children and grandchildren and those who benefited from their teaching and influence. This exhibition is both a very local story and a larger national story about the continuum of Māori artistic excellence.

Rangi and Erenora’s daughters Lillian Hetet (co-curator of the exhibition with former Dowse Senior Curator Emma Bugden) and Veranoa Hetet (renowned weaver) are available for interviews.

Media enquiries and images: Katrina Smit, M 027 7777 127 | T 04 560 1477 | E katrina.smit@huttcity.govt.nz

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