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Not Today… Can you decolonise an art gallery?

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Join Nigel Borell, former curator Māori at Auckland Art Gallery, Puawai Cairns, Director Audience and Insight at Te Papa and Karl Chitham (Ngā Puhi, Te Uriroroi), The Dowse director, as they interrogate the past, the present moment and potential futures for Māori within the art gallery.

Nigel Borell (Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whakatōhea) is a curator, writer, educator and artist specialising in Māori art in both customary and contemporary fields of research. Recent curatorial projects include co-curating with Zara Stanhope Moa Hunter Fashions by Areta Wilkinson, for 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, QAGOMA, Brisbane (2018) and The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, to deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2017). Current projects include the curatorium to Histōrias Indīgenas- Indigenous Histories at Museu de Art de (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (2023) and the large survey exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2021), where he was the Curator Māori art from 2015-2020. Borell participated in the First Nations Indigenous Curators Exchange programme (2015-2017) a partnership initiative of Creative New Zealand, Canada Council for the Arts and Australia Council for the Arts. Recent writing projects include a contributing essay to Becoming our Future, a new publication engaged in the discourse of Indigenous curatorial practice from New Zealand, Canada and Australia (2020).

Puawai Cairns (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga) is Director of Audience and Insight at Te Papa Tongarewa, overseeing the public facing work of the national museum. Puawai has a curatorial and research background, and previously was the Head of Mātauranga Māori for Te Papa, where she specialised in contemporary social history research and collecting to reflect the stories of Māori communities. She co-wrote a book on the material culture of protest called “Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of resistance, persistence and defiance” (Te Papa Press, 2018. 2019 Ockham book award for Best Illustrated Fiction), and continues to advise nationally and internationally on museum practices, advocating for greater indigenous participation and leadership in the heritage sector.

This programme is part of A Speaker Series, 50 Years of Remarkable Ideas, presented by The Dowse Foundation – where we celebrate and reflect on a jam-packed half century of discussion, exploration and provocation at The Dowse Art Museum.