Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei leader appointed Auckland Art Gallery deputy director

By Te Ao - Māori News

Thomas Irvine of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to join Toi o Tāmaki as deputy director.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has appointed Thomas Irvine of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as deputy director.

Irvine becomes the most senior Maori at the gallery and his appointment comes just months after the gallery’s curator Māori, Nigel Borell (Pirirākau, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whakatōhea) resigned soon after the opening of a landmark survey of contemporary Māori art, Toi Tū Toi Ora. Borell cited irreconcilable differences with the gallery’s director, Kirsten Lacy, with whom he had worked closely on Toi Tū Toi Ora.

Other resignations followed and half the gallery’s Māori advisory board stood down.

Irvine will have responsibility for ensuring the operational needs of Toi o Tāmaki are met in finance, human resources, security, capital projects, maintenance and systems improvement.

Most recently, Irvine was chief executive of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Māia, the Auckland-based hapū's corporate body set up in 2013 to advance the cultural, social and environmental aspirations of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

In 2020, Irvine had been appointed by Auckland Unlimited to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s Advisory Committee. 

Toi o Tāmaki provides such rich experiences for all the people of Tāmaki Makaurau, and I am looking forward to supporting the high standard of exhibitions, programmes, publications and more that the Gallery generates." Irvine says.

"After being recently involved in supporting the gallery in its framework surrounding Māori outcomes, I’m thrilled to take on a role to further the vision and values of Toi o Tāmaki."

'A prosperous future'

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Lacy says she is excited by the potential of what they will achieve together "side by side".

"Tom brings a fresh perspective and considerable mana to the gallery’s leadership team.

"His contribution to Auckland Art Gallery’s operational management will undoubtedly create long-standing impact.

"I couldn’t be more pleased with the appointment and look forward to working closely with him to create a prosperous future for the gallery."