Ka Mua, Ka Muri!

By February 1987 Aotearoa New Zealand had been experimenting with internet connections for more than a decade. Parliament had passed the Homosexual Law Reform Act six months prior, and within six more it would make Te Reo Māori the first official language of Aotearoa New Zealand.

This was the time in which Artspace Aotearoa arrived, emerging from a plan by Auckland City Council for a new public art gallery. Twelve years later, on the threshold of the millennium, Artspace moved to Karangahape Road, where Guy Ngan’s aluminum sculpture, Star (1973), still adorns the entrance to the old Newton Post Office building. Suitably affixed to one of the few contemporary independent art organisations that mediated contact with the world. Ngan’s public art work was a presentiment of the future of Auckland as a growing city, embracing modernity by engaging with the radical social implications at its horizon. We walk backwards into the future; ka mua, ka muri.

In 2019 Artspace Aotearoa has grown into a modest, lean contemporary institute for supporting visual art with civic intent. Artspace works within a city, nation and world, knitting together stories that interpret, react, and respond to these permeable borders and the ever-changing societies that exist within them. We have built an approach to our programme and organisation that seeks to care, support, and inspire, making exhibitions that both promote NZ art and actively engage with voices from elsewhere.

Artspace Aotearoa is proud of its long commitment to, and support from, an active community of artists, benefactors, writers, performers, academics and many more who shape the reality we live. We also know that this reality is not the same for all of us, and that many imaginations of how and where we live have many unheard voices. Sometimes what we do is unbalanced, or not enough. We work towards imagining more, better, and in other ways.


Remco de Blaaij, Director

Remco came to Artspace Aotearoa from the position of Senior Curator at the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, where he had worked since 2012. Previously, he co-curated Picasso in Palestine whilst working at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, since 2007. He worked on the team of Be(com)ing Dutch, a two-year elaborate project in the museum that dealt with residues of globalisation, national identity and immigration. In 2011, he concluded his research at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University with the publication ‘too little, too late,’ which focused on border practices of visual culture against the background of Suriname, South America. In 2013 he was recipient of the CPPC/ICI Travel Grant for Central America and the Caribbean. At CCA he curated The Shock of Victory, an exhibition in reaction to the Independence Referendum in Scotland in 2014.

Meijing He, Interim Deputy Director

Meijing is an independent consultant, trainer and arts specialist with fourteen years of experience in a broad range of cultural practices, including visual, performing and literary arts. She is a member of the Expert Facility for UNESCO on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. She worked for the British Council for over thirteen years in several countries, and was recently Head of Arts and Partnership in New Zealand.
Meijing has a global network and an extensive track record in facilitating international collaborations between artists and cultural institutions. She has led large scale projects such as Sir Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon (2015-2016), Heatherwick Exhibition (2015), London Book Fair China Market Focus (2012), Turner From The Tate Collection (2009) and Poetry on the Underground (2005). A graduate from City University in London, UK (Arts Management, MA) and Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China (Art History, BA).

Georgina Brett
, Programme & Gallery Coordinator

Post a BFA in painting Georgina took a hiatus from making. Between Auckland and Australia she worked as a kind of artisan in notable designer workrooms, then as a freelance makeup artist. Having previously studied print design at RMIT, University of Melbourne, Australia, she completed an MFA at the Elam School of Fine Arts (2012) The University of Auckland.
From 2011-2012 she was involved with Snakepit, the artist run initiative: gallery, studios & event space, High St, Auckland where she also exhibited.
In 2015 she spent six months as an Intern with the Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Centre in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. She was also one of the five artists in residence for their Summer Sculpture Programme.
At present her focus is on experimental-sound/music, drawing and writing. Experimental and outsider art, independent spaces and their communities are significant concerns informing Georgina's art practice.

Tyson Campbell, Assistant Curator

For the past three years Tyson has worked as an artist, writer, community facilitator and independent curator based in Naarm Melbourne and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Over the last two years, through his involvement with Blak Dot gallery, TCB art inc, and Artspace Aotearoa, Tyson developed an emerging curatorial practice that centres contemporary Indigenous artistic practices.
Tyson’s current work focuses on Indigenous strategies toward shifting institutional structures and how culturally grounded and communitarian ways of knowing - conversational, celebratory, and respectful kanohi-kitea - can initiate change within such settings. Tyson is interested in cultural mechanisms that move us away from the polarised dichotomy of Indigeneity and institutional critique and from representation as a determining ideology in contemporary art discourse.

Geneva Alexander-Marsters, Marketing, Media, and Communications Assistant

Geneva studied at Unitec Institute of Technology graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design majoring in Product and Furniture Design. Coming from a background in performance media, she has experience in both the New Zealand Television and Music Industries. For the past two years, Geneva has volunteered as a radio host for the Morning Glory show on 95bfm. She contributed as a Band Mentor for Girls' Rock! Camp Aotearoa 2018 and 2019, an initiative that aims to provide confidence and support to female, transgender, intersex and non-binary youth throughout a week-long holiday programme where music is the medium to build confidence, empowerment and foster social change. As an artist, she has put a lot of work into promoting Te Reo Māori as the singer for SoccerPractise, having also worked with the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport in 2017 to launch the POP WAIATA project that aimed to “decolonise the world one waiata at a time”. Alongside the Artspace Aotearoa team, Geneva is working to support our local and international arts community.


Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Chair

Ngā iwi: Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Pāhauwera. Desna works in the areas of design, art and environmental research, connected through the kaupapa of Māori cultural identity articulation. Professional experience includes: Co-Chair Ngā Aho, Māori Design Professionals network (2011-2015); Editorial Committee, Landscape Foundation Journal (2015); Governance Committee Treasurer, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (2015); Accreditation Panel, GDSNZ (2013-2015); Research Assistant, Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa: Sites of Significance, Treaty of Waitangi Claims, Crown Forestry Rental Trust (2011-2013). Designer Tāonga Māori, Ukaipō, MTG (2013); Photographer / Designer, Te Arawhiti Truth & Reconciliation: Te Tira Whakaemi o Te Wairoa Treaty of Waitangi Claims (2014).

Hamish Coney, Trustee

Hamish joined the Artspace Aotearoa board in 2019. He is an Auckland based art advisor and writer. From 2007 to 2018 he was the founding managing director of the auction house Art+Object. He has presented numerous major private collections to the market including the estate of the artist Michael Illingworth in 2017. Hamish has also provided valuation advice and consultancy to many of New Zealand’s public galleries and bodies including Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Museum, The Kingitanga, The University of Auckland, Auckland Council, The Auckland Art Gallery, The Canterbury Museum and Waikato Museum. As an arts writer, he was the winner of the Qantas Media awards arts columnist of the year in 2009 and he currently contributes a monthly column for Newsroom (2017 - present). From 2013 to 2015 he published the magazine Content. A graduate in Art History from the University of Auckland he has a particular interest in benefactor engagement and corporate patronage.

David Newton, Trustee

David joined the Artspace Aotearoa Board in 2009. He is both a member of the Benefactor committee, and chairs the Building committee. He holds a BA (Hons) in Anthropology from the University of Auckland.
Since 2017 David been working as an independent project manager and programme director. He has diverse experience in delivering impactful projects across many sectors including Housing, Health, Local Government and art organisations. His previous trusteeships include the IFANZ, WABA and The IBFAN International, where he was the Oceania Regional Chair. In these roles, David managed a large volunteer body internationally, and networked with other international agencies. He managed funds and staff, and coordinated the monitoring and reporting of breaches of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and delivered advocacy, policy advice and submissions on the approaches to breastfeeding and HIV.
David has long been an avid follower and collector of contemporary art, and fervent about critical theory. He has a broad range of connections and friendships within the art community.

Roberta Tills, Trustee

Roberta most recently was the Finance Director / Business Manager for Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design for 10 years. She has an MA in Arts Administration from City University, London. She is also currently the co-owner of a local backpackers, Brown Kiwi. Previous experience has included owning small businesses, managing the Sky City Theatre, Bay of Islands Arts Festival, and projects at the Shakespeare's Globe, London, Brighton Arts Festival. She has always been interested in contemporary New Zealand art.

Dr. Layne Waerea, Trustee

Dr. Layne Waerea (Te Arawa, Ngāti Kahungunu) is an Auckland artist and educator, with prior experience practising and lecturing in law. As an artist, Layne carries out performance art interventions in public spaces in order to question the social and legal rules central to her previous work. Layne has exhibited, presented and performed her work in Aotearoa, Australia, the U.K., Sweden, and the United States. She completed her doctorate at AUT University in 2016.

Chantel Matthews

Chantel Matthews (Tainui, Ngati Tahinga, Ngati Koata) is an Auckland based artist. Her sculptural practice discusses social, political, and cultural concerns through her own subjectivity as a woman, mother, artist, and Wahine Māori. Through process-led exchanges, experience is located at the centre as story-telling mechanisms, contributing to objects in the making that become both ‘things’ and ‘matters of her concern.’ Prior studies include Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design and Unitec Institute of Technology. Chantel is currently completing her Master of Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology. Prior experience included working within corporate centres in analysis, recoveries, and people management.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Artspace Aotearoa acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi as Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document. Artspace Aotearoa prioritizes the analysis, development and maintenance of practices which nurture the evolving relationship of the dual constitutional heritage of Te Tiriti.

Within our strategic development for the 2015-2018 period, Artspace Aotearoa began incorporating mātauranga Māori more visibly and effectively into organisational leadership. For 2019 and beyond, this strategic focus will continue to explore how we might develop and apply:

  • Pūrākau and whakapapa foundational practices
  • Tikanga and principles based practices
  • Respectful, reciprocal relationships with Mana Whenua, Mataawaka and Tauiwi in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.

Creative Commons

All texts written by Artspace Aotearoa are under the Creative Commons License. Texts by external authors or sources usually are not, except where noted otherwise.

2018 Report

2018 Performance Report, Artspace Aotearoa.



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