4 Oct 2012

Exhibition reconnects people to the Pacific

9:56 pm on 4 October 2012

One of the directors of an international environmental organisation says an exhibition about the Kermadec Islands reconnects New Zealanders to the Pacific Ocean.

Kermadec Nine Artists in the South Pacific opens at the Wellington City Gallery on Thursday and aims to paint a broad artistic impression of Rangitahua or Raoul Island and the abundant marine life around the Kermadecs 1000km north of Auckland.

Tapa cloth called Rangitahua, which is part of the Kermadec exhibition.

Tapa cloth called Rangitahua, which is part of the Kermadec exhibition. Photo: RNZ

Bronwen Golder, from the Pew Environment Group, says an expedition to the islands opened the artists' eyes and made them realise the ocean is not a barrie and, as with Maori ancestors, was a way of joining them with the rest of the Pacific.

She says artists such as Robin White, of Te Atiawa descent, and Niuean born painter-poet John Pule were at the very heart of that connection.

Ms Golder says because the artists travelled to Raoul Island by sea, they were able to imagine how their ancestors sailed to Aotearoa on traditional waka.

She says they gained a sense that the Pacific connects people from place to place, with the Kermadecs being a pit stop for Maori travellers.