Topic: Art Exhibition Closing Speech by Debbie McCauley (2014)

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To commemorate 150 years since the Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga in 1864 an art exhibition was held in St George's Church Hall at Gate Pa with over 70 entrants from adults and schools. This is the closing speech given by Debbie McCauley on Saturday 3 May 2014.

Kia ora Kalani Tarawa (mihi, karakia). Tena tatou katoa. Ko Debbie McCauley. Welcome everybody to the school’s division prize-giving and the official closing of the Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga Art Exhibition.

Thank you to my fellow judges, Debbie Tipuna who unfortunately can’t be with us today, and Buddy Mikaere. Thank you to Tommy Kapai and Michelle Mortlock from Te Tuinga Whanau who kindly sponsored our prizes. Also, thank you to St George’s Church for allowing us the use of this wonderful space.

Tauranga’s founding is steeped in violent actions with the Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga in 1864 and the Bush Campaign of 1867. It has been sobering for us to view those events through the eyes of the students and I believe that the wider community been enriched by the effort that they have put into their artwork.

After 150 years of slumber Tauranga has finally woken up and embraced its identity through a shared history and now has the opportunity to grow up into a truly bicultural city of the future. This shared history gives us a place to stand; it gives our city its own heroes to be proud of and its own stories to tell.  

Last Tuesday the thunder of the haka reverberated through time and honoured the memory of those whose blood soaked the earth beneath our feet. One of our visitors on that day was a Maori Land Court judge who has requested the purchase of two student pieces to hang in her office. She is amongst many who have expressed their overwhelmingly positive response to the exhibition.

It has been truly inspiring to see the diverse range of mediums and varying interpretations of the battles as depicted by the students through their art.

We found it extremely difficult to decide which piece would be selected in each age group. It was evident that each work carried the heart and soul of the artist who created them and many were of a similar high standard. Particularly difficult were the mural and intermediate categories as these works were all very powerful. We really struggled to identify one piece as being superior to another because, as with all of the artworks, each one was valid and significant in its own way.  

Therefore, in deciding on standout works, we had to be quite pedantic about historical detail. This included the British soldier’s uniform which was a dark navy blue with a red welt down the side of the trousers, the elements of the Gate Pa flag being correctly depicted; spelling errors, concept, originality and relevance. In the end this is also a very subjective process.

It can be extremely difficult to put your work up to be judged and we would like to thank all of the entrants who took the time to participate. We have all appreciated your talent, your point of view, your passion and courage in presenting an artwork for this exhibition. The real winners are the hundreds of people who have taken the time to come and view your work and left the exhibition with a deeper understanding because of the experience. Thank you.

  • Tommy Kapai (prizegiving)
  • Buddy
  • Kalani Tarawa (food blessing)
  • Afternoon tet

Winner of the mural division: Kirsty Schultz and the children from Brookfield School. This work has also been chosen to grace a new Tauranga City Library card.

Winner of the Senior Secondary division (years 11-13): Kate Harris and Ana Morris from Tauranga Girls’ College for Ma tini ma mano ka rapa te whai (By many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished. Many hands make light work. Unity is strength)

Winner of the Junior Secondary division (years 9-10): Paris Patete-King from Tauranga Girls’ College for The Tiki (This is my land, land of my ancestors, forever and ever)

Winner of the Intermediate division (years 7-8): Zach Ririnui from Tauranga Intermediate for Hori Ngatai.

Intermediate runner-up: We had many entries in the Intermediate division and as we had no entries from Primary schools, we decided to award a runner up in the intermediate division: Maia McCauley from Tauranga Waldorf School for Aftermath.

Participation certificates and chocolate bars for all participants.

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