For immediate release: 27 August 2014
Hotere’s Godwit/Kuaka flies south this September
City Gallery is delighted to announce that one of Ralph Hotere’s greatest works is landing in the capital this
September. Godwit/Kuaka (originally titled The Flight of Godwit) is a huge 18-metre long mural first created in 1977 for Auckland International Airport. It is one of the largest
paintings ever produced in New Zealand. Godwit/Kuaka will be upstairs at City Gallery from 13 September until 23 November.
“Hotere is a much loved New Zealand artist and Godwit/Kuaka is a high point of his career,” says City Gallery Chief Curator Robert Leonard, “I remember seeing it installed on its
own in a massive white-walled room at Auckland Art Gallery years ago. It was a magisterial, unmediated, religious
experience. I wanted to recreate those conditions. That’s why we are doing it as a one work show.”
Commissioned by Hamish Keith for Auckland Airport, Godwit/ Kuaka was installed in the Arrivals Hall to welcome travellers. The work exemplifies many of Hotere’s key themes including
the relationship between the ancient Maori worldview and the contemporary world. Godwit/ Kuaka honours the bar-tailed godwit (or kukaka), a bird admired in Maori culture for its non-stop, long-haul oceanic flights
and whose arrival was celebrated in the ancient Te Aupōuri Maori chant. Hotere’s use of the godwit, and reference to its
migratory patterns, establishing a metaphor for our own long-haul flights and arrivals.
“Godwit/Kuaka’s astonishing presence is not solely driven by its physical scale but by the emotion, the welcome, it creates. Looking
like a fragment from a monumental loom in which the carefully drawn stripes are never-ending warps that bind the
darkness of night to the colour of day, the mural sings to us and acts as a beacon calling us home, signalling our safe
arrival,” wrote Ron Brownson in his obituary for Ralph Hotere.
In 1996, the airport de-installed the mural and gifted it to the Chartwell Trust. Hotere restored the work in 1997,
retitling it Godwit/Kuaka. It has been on show at the Auckland Art Gallery since 2011 until recently.
Godwit/Kuaka was shown at City Gallery in 1997 as part of the exhibition Ralph Hotere: Out the Black Window
, a collaboration by Hotere and Bill Culbert, is on permanent display on the exterior of City Gallery.
Ralph Hotere: Godwit/Kuaka
13 September – 30 November
City Gallery Wellington | Civic Square