In May 2023, the Gallery unveiled a new work on the scaffold of the heritage building from tā moko artist Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Manu).
Commissioned for the heritage restoration project, Te Toi o Mangahekea draws on water for inspiration, acknowledging how integral it is to all life as well as the many wai, or waters, of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
The six takarangi or interlocking spiral designs speak to the cyclical life of water, from sky to lake, to river, to sea, to sky. Tipene explains that they ‘represent male and female; Ranginui and Papatūānuku; the Waitematā and the Manukau, the two harbours surrounding the Gallery; and finally, east and west, the coastal waters, thereby covering the whole motu’.
Together these designs speak to the interconnectedness of the environment, and our duty of manaakitanga, or care, as kaitiaki, guardians. Commissioned for the Gallery’s heritage project, Kia Whakahou, Kia Whakaora (to restore, to heal) Te Toi o Mangahekea brings to mind the whakataukī ‘He taonga tuku iho nō ngā Tūpuna’—‘the treasures passed down from the ancestors’.
— Press Release