The latest Reed Gallery exhibition Māori Legends is a celebration of Māori voices, art and storytelling, with a focus on Māori illustrators of children's books.

Ko te kaupapa o tēnei whakaaturaka ki te Ahurewa Mātaki o Reed hei whakanui i kā reo, i kā mahi toi, i kā kōrero o te iwi Māori mā te arotahi ki kā kaiwhakaahua pukapuka mā kā tamariki.

He kupu whakatoi te ikoa Māori Legends – e pā ana tēnei whakaaturaka ki kā kōrero pūrākau Māori me kā tākata rokonui – ērā rikatoi I whakaahuatia aua kōrero. He tohutoro tēnei ki te pukapuka Māori Legends: Some Myths and Legends of the Māori People i tuhia e Alistair Campbell, ā, i whakaaturia e Kahuraki Robin White i te tau 1969. Ko tētahi tēnei o kā pukapuka tuatahi i whakaaturia e te rikatoi Māori e kitea ana ki kā Kohikohika Motuhake o konei. Ko tā mātou pou tuatahi tēnei – hei tīmatataka i te whakatakotoraka tirohaka Māori. Kua kapea ētahi o kā whakaahua mai i Māori Legends mō tēnei whakaaturaka me te puka rāraki. Ka mihi ki a Kahuraki Robin White I whakaāe mai kia kapea ēnei mahi toi, ā,harikoa ana mātou ki te miramira i te rikatoi e mau hereka ana ki Otago me te whenua e takahia ana e tātou.

Ko te pou tuarua ko Legends of the Māori, nā Maui Pomare. E rua ēnei pukapuka, i tuhia i te tau 1934, e kōrero ana i kā pūrākau Māori, ā, ko tētahi o kā pukapuka tuatahi i tuhia e te Māori e noho ana i kā Kohikohika Motuhake. He tohu tēnei o te nukuka mai i te pūrākau Māori e kōrerotia ana i te tirohaka Pākehā, ki te tuhika i te tirohaka Ao Māori.

He pukapuka whakaahua mā kā tamariki, mai i te tekau tau 1960 ki te tekau tau 1990 te nuika o te whakaaturaka. Ka kitea kā pūrākau Māori e tū ora ana. E whakatauira ana ēnei i tētahi wāhaka whaimana o tō tātou nei whakapapa i Aotearoa, e whakaatu ana i te huaka o kā pukapuka tamariki hei whakapakari i te reo Māori. Nā te manawanui o ērā kaituhi, kaiwhakaahua hoki pērā i a Kahuraki Kāterina Mataira i whakatakataka te ara mō ērā i whai atu, e whakakoi ana i kā hinekaro tamariki, pakeke hoki ki te mōhiotaka i kā pūrākau, i te reo, i te mātauraka Māori anō hoki.

Ehara i te mea he kohikohika whānui o kā pukapuka whakaahua mā kā tamariki i whakaahuatia e te rikatoi Māori, heoi anō he tauira noa iho o kā taoka kei Kā Kohikohika Motuhake o Kā Kete Wānaka o Ōtepoti. I roto i kā kohikohika katoa ētahi mea matakaro – he kōrero anō tā te pīwaiwai me te mea i takahia, tāpiri atu ki ērā i āta kohia. Nā ēnei mahi i kitea ētahi mea karo kia hokona hei whakapakari i te kohikohika.

He pārekareka ēnei taoka ki a mātou, ā, ka tūmanako ka pērā anō ki a koutou.

Kā mihi nui,

Jill Bowie, Elspeth Moody, Aroha Novak, Alyce Stock

Te Kupeka


The kaupapa of this Reed Gallery exhibition is to celebrate Māori voices, art and storytelling, with a particular focus on Māori illustrators of children’s books. 

Māori Legends is a play on words – this exhibition is about Māori stories and Māori legends – the artists who illustrated those stories. This is a direct reference to the book Māori Legends: Some Myths and Legends of the Māori People written by Alistair Campbell, illustrated by Dame Robin White in 1969, which is one of the first instances of a Māori artist illustrating a published book found here in Heritage Collections. This pukapuka is our first pou – our starting point for the visual representation of a Māori perspective. A selection of illustrations from Māori Legends have been reproduced for this exhibition and catalogue. We thank Dame Robin White for her permission to reprint these works and we are pleased to be able to highlight an artist with connections to Otago and the landscape we inhabit. 

Our second pou is Legends of the Māori by Maui Pomare. Written in 1934, two large volumes retell Māori stories and are one of the first published works by a Māori writer held in Heritage Collections. This signifies a shift from Māori stories being retold through a colonial/Pākehā lens to being written and told from a Māori perspective.The majority of the exhibition is dedicated to children’s picture books written from the 1960s to the 1990s. In these books we see Māori stories brought vividly to life. They illustrate an important part of our shared history in Aotearoa, showing the value of children’s pukapuka as a learning tool for the revitalisation of te reo Māori. The enthusiasm and dedication of writers and illustrators such as Dame Kāterina Mataira have paved the way for others to follow, keeping young and old minds alive and active in their knowledge of pūrākau, te reo and mātauraka Māori. By no means a comprehensive exhibition of children’s picture books illustrated by Māori artists in Aotearoa, this selection is a snapshot of what is available here at Dunedin Public Libraries – Heritage Collections. Within all collections of things, there exists an absence – the overlooked or disregarded create as much of a story as the carefully selected items. Doing this mahi has highlighted gaps in the collection, which will result in the purchase of items deserving of a place in our collections but currently absent from them.

We hope you enjoy these taoka as much as we do.

Kā mihi nui,

Jill Bowie, Elspeth Moody, Aroha Novak, Alyce Stock

Te Kupeka


Māori Legends

25 June – 9 October 2022

Reed Gallery, 3rd Floor, Dunedin City Library