Blessing marks practical completion of new Mahara Gallery

19 Apr 2023, 3:12 PM

A blessing by Kāpiti Kaumatua Te Rakauoteora Te Maipi (Koro Don) was held today at the new Mahara Gallery in Waikanae, reports the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Kāpiti Coast District Mayor Janet Holborow said the blessing marks the practical completion of the gallery’s reconstruction and hand over to the Mahara Gallery Trust for commissioning and re-opening later this year.

“After nearly 20 years of planning, fundraising and construction, reaching this milestone is hugely significant,” said Mayor Holborow.

“This beautiful gallery will provide a permanent home for the nationally significant Field Collection of art works, a focal point for local iwi taonga and a district-wide forum for artists and those with an interest in the visual arts.”

The Field Collection includes 24 paintings by Frances Hodgkins, New Zealand’s most celebrated expatriate painter. It is the largest collection of her works in public ownership outside Te Papa and Auckland and Dunedin public art galleries.

The collection also includes a valuable collection of family documents.

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to dedicated efforts of many, many people who have worked towards achieving our vision of creating a museum-quality arts space in Kāpiti.” says Mayor Holborow.”

Practical completion means Council returns the gallery keys to the Mahara Gallery Trust. The Trust will then manage the fitout and test the environmental control systems before installing the Field Collection and mounting exhibitions.

“This is a project that has been more than 20 years in the making,” said Mahara Gallery Trust Board Chairman, Gordon Shroff.

“Each major milestone along the reconstruction journey has been significant and exciting for the Board as well as the Gallery’s many friends and supporters.

“When the new Mahara opens, they will I’m sure be delighted with a modern Gallery that has double the number of exhibition galleries and almost triple the amount of exhibition space.”

“Apart from the important consideration of providing a home for the Field Collection, we will be able to better serve our community as the district gallery and contribute to the artistic life of the greater Wellington region.”

Gordon Shroff says that although there are some elements to commissioning that have unpredictable timeframes, the Board is targeting August (2023) for a series of community opening events.

The Field Collection Trust - the third partner in the redevelopment project along with the Mahara Gallery Trust Board and Kapiti Coast District Council – has welcomed practical completion of the building.

Trustee Kay Brown says it is 25 years since she and her fellow trustees were entrusted with the custody of the Field Collection.

“During this time, our focus has been on finding a suitable home for the collection and we are delighted we are now within reach of achieving this,” said Mrs Brown.

Although construction of the building is complete (apart from minor finishing touches), the hoardings will stay in place for a few more months while exterior works take place.

External works include building new footpaths from Marae Lane to the gallery, and along Aputa Lane to Olive Grove Café. Modifications will be made to the ramp, stairs, and wall in Mahara Place. 

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