Whetūrangitia: Exhibition explores indigenous lineage to the gods

By Stefan Dimitrof

This month, an exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt explores the ideas of whakapapa or lineage to the gods.

Works from around the world including, Nepal, Canada, Hawai'i, Sāmoa, Tonga, Laos and Aotearoa will feature in the Whetūrangitia/Made as Stars exhibition starting this month.

Dowse Art Museum director Karl Chitham (Ngāpuhi, Te Uriroroi) said the exhibition explored a lot of the artists' projects entertaining the idea about that type of whakapapa.

”Sometimes it’s notions of time, sometimes it looks at the future. It’s not strictly about the whakapapa itself but more about how indigenous cultures are living today and acknowledging that whakapapa.”

Chitham said that he is a fan of the Marvel films and various Netflix series but identifies that as the Hollywood version of the gods whereas Whetūrangitia is an authentic cultural representation of the artist whakapapa and experiences themselves.

“These concepts aren’t just ideas that are made up, ideas or myths or folktales. They are actually a part of our whakapapa and that is the same for a lot of indigenous cultures.”

Chitham said that people look at the stories as made up but said that these stories for a lot of indigenous cultures these stories are their histories.

“It was really important to show that through the exhibition.”