2016 marked thirty years since the founding of the institution that would become Whitireia
As part of celebrating the three decades of its history, Whitireia held a morning tea to honour the service of staff members who had been with institution for 25-30 years. One of the recipients was Wally Clay who, you may recall, had been at Whitireia the longest of all, helping build the initial prefabs in 1985.
Other members of staff who were rewarded for their long service were Trish Brimblecombe, Nicki Keen and George Packard. Addressing the assembled staff, chief executive Chris Gosling spoke to the importance of people such as as the recipients and staff at Whitireia in general, quoting a favourite whakatauākī :
He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
Visual Arts and Design marked 30 years of Whitireia with an exhibition at Pātaka Art + Museum called Ahi Kā: Keep the Fires Burning. Coinciding with the 2016 graduate exhibition Toast, Ahi Kā brought together work by Whitireia alumni from across three decades, with artists who had studied on the original National Diploma in Craft Design to more recent graduates of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Visual Arts & Design) and the Graduate Diploma in Applied Arts.
A quote in the exhibition catalogue spoke of the symbolism of the title Ahi Kā, highlighting its connection to Ngāti Toa, and to Te Puoho Katene, who had been kaumātua for the Visual Arts department in its early years. "Ahi Kā is the name of the kōwhaiwhai rafter pattern designed by Te Puoho Katene QSM, Ngāti Toa iwi, in the Takapūwāhia marae in Elsdon, Porirua. It is symbolised by the cooking fires of the kainga held in the hand. It also means those that stay behind to guard the fire. This symbol was first used at a tribal wānanga and was supported by the words: Ahi mō te ao. The mythological story of Maui securing fire for the world was the inspiration for this symbol."
The artists represented in Ahi Kā were Dwain Aiolupotea, Ranea Aperahama, Vivien Atkinson, Becky Bliss, Ellen Coup, Sam Dollimore, Nik Hanton, James Harcourt, Reremoana Hilliard, Patrice Kaikilekofe, Ela To'omaga-Kaikilekofe, Jack Karifi, Jen Laracy, Hanne Eriksen Mapp, Owen Mapp, Neke Moa, Anya Mowll, James Molnar, Tracey Morgan, Kivani Moriarty, Alison Murray, Eric Ngan, Lindsay Park, Amelia Pascoe, Mel Phillips, Sarah Read, Mieke Roy, Sandra Schmid, Moniek Schrijer, Clare Smith, Nadine Smith, Wi Taepa, Cleo Thorpe-Ngata, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Maryjane Winiata, Keri-Mei Zagrobelna