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Level 5, Te PapaPrevious Exhibition
In the 1700s, Pacific peoples and Europeans came face to face for the first time. European explorers took numerous images of indigenous people home with them, delighting a curious public.
In colonial New Zealand, such depictions were similarly popular among European settlers. But they weren’t the only buyers – or sellers. Māori commissioned their own portraits, and experimented with new ideas in their art.
The portraits here are at once works of art and links with the past. The canvas dissipates in the moment of encounter – the tupuna, or ancestors, stand before us.
He kanohi kitea, he hokinga mahara.
A face seen, a memory stirred.