• Saligia Art Gallery

New tribute to a Nelson heroine

huria matenga, saligia art gallery, nelson marlborough rescue helicopter, boat shed.
Two cultures, two eras. The covered up version of Huria Matenga as a Maori Mona Lisa.

Most people reckon the Mk II was better than the Mk I, even if the gearbox could be a bit dodgy at times. Zephyrs, that is.

Hopefully Saligia Art's Mk II version of what has proven to be a problematic artistic vehicle will also be a bit more acceptable.

We've taken on board a storm of opinion over our decision to depict Huria Matenga topless, and produced a second version, fully covered up, of what we have always considered as a tribute to a Nelson heroine.

We had asked local iwi how best to appropriately cover our version of the Delaware rescuer without response. So we took on board Whakatu chair Jane du Feu's comments about how Matenga had embraced European fashion.

The new painting shows her with a beach towel beneath her cloak; the colours representing a combining of the two cultures; the towel an obvious reference to her drying off after her part in the rescue.

There was never an intention to offend, with the topless angle intended as a pointer to the impact of colonialist sensibilities. We did not mean to suggest that Huria Matenga would have gone about topless; merely that she was a strong, modern and influential woman of her times.

We send out a sincere thank you to Stephen Mariu of the Maori Wardens for his assistance and hope this will be the ending of the matter. Thank you too, to all others who have commented on the issue, often very strongly. We did take your views to heart.

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