Three artworks were commissioned for the reopening, to honour the connections between mana whenua and Pasifika and, in doing so, uplift the mana of Te Ao Mārama.
In the entrance to Te Ao Mārama, artist Graham Tipene's Te Tatau Kaitiaki (The Guardians Gateway) has been inserted into two doors attached to the pillars that visitors move through as they enter and exit the space. The piece has a ceremonial role to play as part of the overarching tikanga of the space, and depicts two female figures, embodying the traditional voice of karanga or welcome.
The wāhi whakanoa by artist Chris Bailey will enable tikanga practice of whakanoa to be carried out, a vital and important element for the Museum. Sculpted from stone the wāhi whakanoa is a place where people are able to make themselves noa (common) after potentially coming into contact with taonga that are tapu.
On the ‘legs’ of the Tanoa are twin artworks, Manulua, by Tongan artist Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi. These sculptures are based on an ancient practice lalava (lashing) used across the Pacific in traditional Island buildings, tools and vaka (canoe) as the means of binding together, symbolising the unity of all things past, present and future.
The redevelopment does not stop there.
Visitors can also visit a new Museum Store designed by Ignite Architects, a museum bistro and café Tuitui by architect Jack McKinney, a Kai Room for guests who choose to self-cater on their visit, and increased amenities such as toilets, change facilities and lockers.