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 Aotearoa 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.

Artspace Aotearoa has grown into a modest, lean contemporary institute for supporting visual art with civic intent. Artspace Aotearoa 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, Kaitohu 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, Manahautu General Manager

Meijing is a senior art manager and administrator with fifteen years of experience in a broad range of cultural practices, including visual, performing, and literary arts. She manages the day-to-day operations of Artspace Aotearoa with clear vision and purpose. Meijing is a member of UNESCO's expert facility on developing a diverse contemporary cultural sector. Prior to Artspace Aotearoa, she was the Head of Arts for the British Council New Zealand. She is a certified coach (ACC ICF) and certified Project Management Professional (PMI). Her international experience includes managing 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). Meijing is 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 Co-ordinator

Post a BFA in painting Georgina took a hiatus from making. Between Auckland and Australia she worked as a workroom artisan for notable designers, 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.

Daniel John Corbett Sanders, Kaiāwhina Whakaaturanga Assistant Curator

Having extensive experience in the creative sector from adolescence, Corbett Sanders has gone on to curate and contribute to numerous events based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. In 2020, Corbett Sanders founded Parasite Gallery on Karangahape road (p4r451t3.com/), this artist-run space was built out of ideas surrounding institutional critique, presenting new modes of art-making, in particular those that often situate LGBTQ+ artistic practice within a wider conversation on the socio-political context of everyday life.

Aliyah Winter, Communications Assistant (Maternity cover)

Aliyah studied at Massey University Wellington, graduating with a Bachelor of Design majoring in Photographic Design in 2014, and later graduating with a Masters in Fine Arts in 2017. As an artist, her research based practice often draws on historical material and marginalised histories and considers how regimes of power and their effects might be embodied. She retains a focus on moving image, with an interest in language, voice and the queer/trans body. She also works part time at Te Tuhi as an Audience Engagement and Administration Assistant. Since 2016 Aliyah has worked in various roles for Gender Minorities Aotearoa, Irawhiti Takatāpui, Transgender, and Intersex NZ (genderminorities.com/).

Tiaki Board

The Board is guided by a Tiaki model with three core focus areas:

Cultural Strategy:
Tikanga; Kawa; Sector Growth; and Strategic Networking

Creative Well-being:
Leadership and staff Well-being; Artist Relationships; Art-space and Art-place (Identity)

Commercial Resilience:
Audit and Risk, Benefactors, Business Innovation and Funding Partnerships

Board Members

Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Kaihautu Chairperson

Iwi: Rongomaiwahine, Kahungunu, Pāhauwera. Hapū: Ngāi Tahu Matawhaiti. M. Sci Comm (Otago University 2018); Adv. Cert, Te Ara Reo (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, 2004); B.Design (Unitec 1997).
Current Communications Advisor Māori, for Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge and an Ambassador for Landscape Foundation NZ, Desna actively involved in indigenous discourse, stakeholder engagement and Kaupapa Māori leadership, strategy, research, design and communications. She has worked with, promoted, elevated, and connected Māori and indigenous professionals and communities continuously throughout her career. Governance roles include; Chair, Ngā Aho Māori Design Professionals; Trustee, Arts Foundation NZ; Governance Board Member, Auckland Urban Design Panel. Governance Committee Treasurer, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (2015-18).

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.

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.

Emily Parr, Trustee

Emily Parr (Ngāi Te Rangi, Moana, Pākehā) is an artist living in Tāmaki Makaurau. Weaving stories with moving images, her practice explores relationships between people, political frameworks, whenua and moana. She is also a member of Accompany, an artists’ collective that walk and work alongside community organisations and social movements. Emily was the recipient of the 2019 Iris Fisher Scholarship and the 2016 Tāmaki Estuary Art Award. She holds a BFA (Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts, an MVA from AUT, and is currently working towards a PhD.

Dr Diana Albarrán González, Trustee

Dr Diana Albarrán González is a Native Latin American design researcher from Mexico. She is a lecturer and researcher in the Design programme at Elam Te Waka Tūhura in the Creative Arts and Industry faculty at the University of Auckland. She graduated from the Māori and Indigenous faculty, Te Ara Poutama, at Auckland University of Technology where her PhD research focused on the decolonisation of design in collaboration with Mayan weavers from Chiapas, Mexico, her birthplace. She proposes a Buen Vivir-Centric Design model towards a fair-dignified life, based on collective well-being, textiles, crafts-design-arts, embodiment and creativity. Diana has more than 18 years of international experience in places like New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Spain and Mexico applying, re-learning, researching and teaching design. This has given her the ability to address challenges in a variety of contexts, and the opportunity to develop a meaningful sense of culture and diversity awareness and sensitivity. She is a craftivist, a mother and an active member of the Latin American community seeking to contribute to women's and families' well-being through connections to our own cultural roots.

Former Directors

Misal Adnan Yıldız (2015-2017)

Misal Adnan Yıldız is currently co-director of Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in Germany (2021). He studied psychology and education at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and later completed his master’s degree in visual arts and image theory at Sabancı University. From 2006 to 2008, he completed the Curatorial Studies Programme Curatorlab/Konstfack, was a fellow of the Swedish Institute and worked with the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Artists. In 2010, Misal Adnan Yıldız worked as a research curator for the Independent Study Programme at the Valand Academy of Arts in Gothenburg/Sweden.

He is currently a member of the board of the New Centre for Research & Practice and teaches curatorial methods there. Yıldız is the former director of Artspace Aotearoa in Auckland/New Zealand (November 2014 – June 2017) and was previously artistic director at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (2011-2014). His exhibition projects such as “Time Challenger” for HISK, Ghent, “There is no audience” for Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, “Correct me if I’m critical” as a multi-venue project in Berlin for the Swedish Embassy, “A History of Inspiration” for the Palais de Tokyo in Paris as part of “Nouvelles vagues” (New Waves) and the multi-location project “Mutterzunge” in Berlin were awarded in the context of calls for proposals.

Catherina Riva (2012-2015)

Caterina Riva co-founded the curatorial project space FormContent (2007-2011) in London with Francesco Pedraglio and Pieternel Vermoortel. She then moved to Auckland, New Zealand to be the Director and Curator at Artspace (2011-2014). In 2016, Riva worked at Istituto Svizzero in Rome and Milan and was Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (2017-2019).

Caterina Riva is currently (2021) the Director of MACTE–Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Termoli in Molise, Italy.

Emma Bugden (2008-2011)

Emma Bugden is strategic lead of creative industries and arts for Whanganui & Partners. Formerly she was the Managing Curator of SCAPE Public Art, responsible for the selected exhibition element of the SCAPE Public Art Season 2019 through to 2021.

Bugden has carved out a career in the arts over two decades. She is a recognised curator, writer, editor and contemporary art maven holding key roles including Senior Curator at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, Director of the Physics Room in Christchurch, Director of ARTSPACE in Auckland, Curatorial Director at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland, and Curator at City Gallery Wellington.

Originally trained as an artist, she has worked as a curator for both independent spaces and public art museums, holding key leadership roles within the sector. She has worked with over 100 artists to realise ambitious and challenging exhibitions that have toured New Zealand. Bugden has a reputation as a fierce advocate for artists with a passionate belief in the power of art to transform and enrich communities.

Bugden has served on numerous panels and trusts. She was New Zealand Nominator for the Signature Art Prize 2018 at the Singapore Art Museum and a Juror for the 2016 Walters Prize.

Brian Butler (2005 – 2008)

Brian Butler is the Director of 1301PE, an LA-based gallery that represents internationally renowned artists including Fiona Banner, Jorge Pardo, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Pae White, and Superflex.

Tobias Berger (2003 – 2005)

Tobias Berger is now (2021) Head of Arts at the JC Central Police Station project in Hong Kong. Previously he has worked at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, the Triennial in Vilnius, ARTSPACE in Auckland, Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong, was Chief Curator at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Korea and curator at M+ in Hong Kong.

In 2002, Berger was artistic director of the 8th Baltic Triennial of International Art in Vilnius, Lithuania, which presented more than 50 East European and international artists in an exhibition entitled “Center of Attraction". In 2004, he was responsible for developing the concept for the New Zealand contribution to the Sao Paulo Biennial and in the same year in New Zealand, he curated sections of the Auckland Triennial and “Work It!” for the Art & Industry Biennial in Christchurch. Other international Biennial projects which included exhibitions organized by Berger include Guangzhou, China (2005) and Busan, South Korea (2006).

Hanna Scott (2002-2003)

Hanna Scott is currently a Senior Programme Leader, Arts and Culture at Auckland Council and ran Artspace Aotearoa as an interim Director in 2002. With a strong background in creative industries, Hanna Scott has worked with the architectural design community, brand marketing, communications and publishing, in roles where I combine business knowledge, analytic skills and creative expertise to increase profile and revenue for clients and employers.

Robert Leonard (1997-2001)

Robert is currently (2021) Chief Curator at City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand. He has held curatorial posts at Wellington’s National Art Gallery, New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and Auckland Art Gallery, and have directed Auckland’s Artspace and Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. His curated shows include Headlands: Thinking through New Zealand Art for Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 1992 and Mixed-Up Childhood for Auckland Art Gallery in 2005. I curated New Zealand representation for Brisbane’s Asia-Pacific Triennial in 1999, the Sao Paulo Biennale in 2002, and the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2015. In City Gallery he curated Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology (2014), Julian Dashper & Friends (2015), Francis Upritchard: Jealous Saboteurs (2016), Colin McCahon: On Going Out with the Tide (2017), John Stezaker: Lost World (2017), This Is New Zealand (2018), and Iconography of Revolt (2018).

Priscilla Pitts (1989-1993)

Priscilla Pitts is a freelance writer and curator and formerly was General Manager Heritage Destinations for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga, responsible for the forty-eight properties cared for by the Trust. She was also formerly director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Otago Settlers Museum, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and ARTSPACE (NZ) in Auckland. She has written extensively on contemporary New Zealand art, curated exhibitions and was a co-founder of Antic, a journal of arts, literature, theory and criticism. In a distant former life, she freelanced as a theatre designer.

Mary-Louise Browne (1987-1989)

The inaugural Director of Artspace, Mary-Louise Browne is a practicing artist who is represented by Bartley and Company, Wellington. She is represented in major public and university collections throughout the country. Her commissioned public artworks can be seen in the Botanic Gardens, Wellington; Civic Square, Wellington; Lorne Street, Auckland CBD and Nuffield Street, Newmarket, Auckland. She currently lectures in Theory at Unitec School of Design, Auckland and is a former Curator at City Gallery Wellington.

Former Staff

Geneva Alexander-Marsters, Marketing, Media, and Communications Assistant
 (Maternity Leave)
Tyson Campbell, (Assistant Curator, 2020-2021)
Lachlan Taylor (Assistant Curator, 2019-2020)
Jaimee Stockman-Young (Gallery Administrator, 2017)
Leah Mulgrew (Communications Coordinator, 2011-2017)
Bridget Riggir-Cuddy (Curatorial Assistant, 2017)
Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua (Education Intern, 2017)
Anna Gardner (Gallery Administrator, 2010-2016)
Henry Davidson (Curatorial Assistant, 2015)
Louisa Afoa (Education Intern, 2015)
Amelia Hitchcock (Curatorial Assistant, 2013/2014)
Ahilapalapa Rands (Education Intern, 2014)
Alex Davidson (Curatorial Assistant, 2012/2013)
Ioana Gordon-Smith (Education Intern, 2013)
Arron Santry (Curatorial Intern, 2011)
Annie Bradley (Communications Manager, 2010)
Lena Kovac (Administrator, 2010)
Roman Mitch (Curatorial Intern, 2010)
Vera Mey (Education and Media Intern, 2010)
Robyn Maree Pickens (Curatorial Intern, 2009)
Victoria Henderson (Resource Manager, 2009)
Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers (Curatorial Intern, 2008)
Ida Moberg (Communications Manager, 2007)
Ariane Craig-Smith (Curatorial Intern, 2007 and Project Manager 2019)
Laura Preston (Curatorial Intern, 2006)
Tessa Giblin (Assistant Curator, 2005)
Sonya Korohina (Administrator, 2001)
Constance McArdle (Projects Manager, 1998)
Kelly Carmichael (Administrator, 1998)

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.



+64 9 303 4965

292 Karangahape Road
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland 1010
Aotearoa New Zealand

292 Karangahape Road
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland 1010
Aotearoa New Zealand


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