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Tribute: Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki

Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheok
Curator, academic and art historian Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki (1943 – 2014)


Curator, academic and art historian Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki (1943 – 2014)

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The University of Auckland

Kua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tane
A great totara in the forest of Tane has fallen

It is with heartfelt sadness that the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland acknowledges the passing of Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Professor of Fine Arts, last Friday evening.

Professor Mane-Wheoki was one of New Zealand’s leading art historians and a highly-regarded teacher having taught thousands of fine arts and art history students over an academic career spanning nearly 35 years. He was also a generous mentor, assisting many academics, curators and artists in the development of their careers. His specialist teaching and research interests included the histories of indigenous art, with a specific interest in that of Maori and Pacific peoples, early Modern European art, and the Gothic Revival.

Professor Mane-Wheoki was appointed to the Elam School of Fine Arts as Head of School in 2009 and remained in that role until 2012. Previous to this appointment he was Director of Art and Collections Services at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (2004-9) including service as Director of Repatriation (2008-9), and Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Canterbury (1975-2004) including terms as Head of School and Dean of Music and Fine Arts. Since 2013 Professor Mane-Wheoki held a concurrent part-time position as Head of Art and Visual Culture at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.

Raised in the Bay of Plenty and Titirangi, Professor Mane-Wheoki later moved to Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury, receiving a Diploma in Fine Arts majoring in painting (1969), followed by a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature (1971). Three years later he completed a Master in Fine Arts in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he completed his dissertation on Victorian High Gothic ecclesiastical architecture. He was also an Associate of the Trinity College of Music, London (1968).

There are few academics who have had such a profound influence on the development of our country’s creative humanities than Professor Mane-Wheoki. He sought to establish a ‘New Zealand art history’ with an intellectual integrity that matched scholarly art historical methods. His published and taught work influenced generations of art historians, curators, and arts commentators; his observations on New Zealand art in a global context were widely sought by national and international universities, galleries, museums and art organisations inspired by the picture of pioneering artists he has painted.

Within the national art history he championed, he purposefully created a space for Maori and Pacific art. This work has been globally ground-breaking and with colleagues Associate Professor Deidre Brown (Architecture and Planning) and Dr Ngarino Ellis (Art History) he continued to extend it through his 2013 Marsden-funded research project ‘Toi Te Mana: a history of indigenous art,’ which seeks to establish a new Maori art history. His empathy for the advancement of Maori culture has been evident in his development of a number of equity initiatives at Auckland and Canterbury Universities that have supported the education of Maori and Pacific students.

In a career marked by conspicuous public service both in New Zealand and overseas, he has served with distinction on a number of important organisations. Recent major appointments included to the College of Governors of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, the Board of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and Member of Haerewa (Maori Advisory Group), Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. He had also previously served as Kaitiaki Maori at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, and as a member of the Marsden Council, Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Humanities Panel (including a term as Chair), Humanities Society of New Zealand Te Whainga Aronui (including a term as President), the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, and Te Waka Toi: the Maori Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, and the Advisory Council of the Centre Culturel Jean-Marie Tjibaou, Noumea.

His dedicated service to the arts community and academia over a sustained period was recognised by a number of important awards. In 2008 he received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Canterbury, and four years later his contribution to the humanities over a sustained period was recognised by the Royal Society of New Zealand with the 2012 Pou Aronui Award. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours Professor Mane-Wheoki was appointed a Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to the arts. In September he was appointed Companion of the Auckland War Memorial Museum for his services to museums. At the latter event he delivered a moving speech about the important role that museums and universities, and the people who work within them, have in the shaping of identity.

Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki was an exemplary academic whose passing will be felt keenly by colleagues and students at the University of Auckland and widely through the New Zealand arts community. He is survived by his partner Paul Bushnell and his sister Moea Barber.

Professor Mane-Wheoki will lie in state at Waipapa Marae, the University of Auckland on Friday 17 October from 6pm. The following morning he will depart the Marae at 9am for his Requiem Mass, which will be at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday 18 October. After the Mass, he will be taken to Piki Te Aroha Marae, Rahiri Settlement Rd, Horeke, Northland, for his tangi, which will begin after 6pm. Jonathan will be laid to rest next to his beloved father, Hetiraka, on Sunday after a funeral service at 10am.

Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki CNZM, BA, DipFA(Hons), HonDLitt Cant., MA Courtauld Inst., ATCL (Ngapuhi/Te Aupouri/Ngati Kuri), academic and curator: born 1943; died October 10, 2014.

Haere, haere, haere atu ra.

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Creative New Zealand

Creative New Zealand mourns the passing of much respected and admired curator, academic and historian Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki.

Professor Mane-Wheoki was a member of the former Maori arts board of Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi and later a member of the Arts Council, where he served for many years.

Toitu te whenua whatungarongaro te tangata; E hika nou te tai ahiahi e timu ake nei, waiho mai ko tai ata ki muri nei. Kia au to moe i te okiokinga a tini a te mano, e moe e moe moe mai ra!

The land endures while we the living are destined to return to the mother earth...O sire yours is the receding evening tide...leave to us the morning tide. May your sleep be restful as you join the many the multitude who have passed before in the sleep of never waking…

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Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra acknowledges with great sadness the passing of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki at the weekend, a member of the APO Board since October 2009.

APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser recognised the legacy left by Mr Mane-Wheoki. “Jonathan was a much respected member of the board, and truly championed the orchestra. He contributed so much to us and we remain indebted to his work,” she says. “He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him,” she added.

Ms Glaser noted that Mr Mane-Wheoki’s involvement with the APO was characteristic of his passion for the arts, and he generously contributed his time and knowledge in between his already busy work commitments.

APO Board Chairman Geraint Martin also paid tribute to Mr Mane-Wheoki as a charismatic and guiding member of the Board. “Whenever there was a challenging decision, Jonathan was the voice of reason we turned to. His demeanour was always dignified and calm, and his input was incredibly valuable to us as a Board.

“We are deeply saddened by his passing, and our hearts and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

To commemorate the life of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, the APO will dedicate its Thursday night concert to his memory.

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The Arts Foundation

The Arts Foundation morns the loss of a tireless advocate for the arts, Arts Foundation Governor, and our great friend. Jonathan Mane-Wheoki died last Friday night in the hands of his loving partner Paul and his dear sister.

Jonathan’s contribution to the Arts Foundation was significant. As a Governor, he was integral to the establishment of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Awards. He participated in every Icon Award selection since the Awards were launched in 2003. His wide range of knowledge was critical in establishing the credibility of the Icon Awards, and ensuring exciting and meaningful selections. Jonathan was also responsible for re-discovering important New Zealand artists who thought they had been forgotten by New Zealand. Examples include Ballet Dancer Alexander Grant and Organist Dame Gillian Weir.

Jonathan had a brilliant searching mind, and his contributions to policy provided important developments to the criteria for the Arts Foundation’s Awards. Jonathan also provided guidance in tikanga Maori, especially to our Executive Director, Simon Bowden. It was to Jonathan and Simon that the late Pakariki Harrison gifted the Maori name of the Arts Foundation, Te Tumu Mahi Toi.

Gaylene Preston, Laureate, and Chair of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand College of Governors said:

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, who died last Friday. Jonathan was a founding Governor of The Arts Foundation and as such, a staunch advocate for Maori and Pacific artists and their work.  His deep personal and peerless academic knowledge over several art forms made him a highly valued contributor to the Governors, and his considered and passionately held views will be greatly missed. We send his loving partner, Paul Bushnell, and Jonathan’s family our deepest sympathy. Far greater than what has gone before, and greater than what is yet to come, is what lies within."

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Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

It is with tremendous sorrow that Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki shares the news of the passing of Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki (Ngapuhi/Te Aupouri/Ngati Kuri) who died peacefully on Friday October 10.

A deeply respected and greatly loved curator and historian in the fields of art, architecture and culture, Jonathan had been a pivotal member of Te Haerewa, Auckland Art Gallery’s Maori Advisory Group since 2010, offering valuable advice and sharing his extraordinary knowledge.  

Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says, ‘Jonathan remains a highly influential pioneer in the development of contemporary Maori and Pacific art and art history, his contribution has been profound. 

‘He will be long remembered for his powerful support and advocacy for contemporary Maori art practice and for being a brilliant and strong Maori voice in the fields of art history, architecture, fine arts education, cultural exchange and critical writing, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.’ 

Jonathan was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours and in recent weeks was awarded a medal as Companion of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.  

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Auckland War Memorial Museum

It is with tremendous sadness that Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira, shares the news of the passing of Professor Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki CMNZ (Ngapuhi/Te Aupouri/Ngati Kuri) on Friday 10 October.

Professor Mane-Wheoki was recently made a Companion of the Auckland War Memorial Museum for 2014. He was given that honour because of his extensive knowledge and curatorship of New Zealand history spanning many genres including art, architecture and cultural history. He was a strong advocate for the humanities and a pioneer in developing the study of contemporary Maori and Pacific art and art history.

Jonathan contributed significantly to academic and museum circles and held senior positions that situated him at the forefront in dialogue about New Zealand’s history and expression in the arts. Through his work at the University of Canterbury from 1975 to 2004, as Senior Lecturer and Dean of Music and Fine Arts, Jonathan had a major influence on a whole generation of our scholars and curators who themselves are now leaders in the field. His depth of knowledge and his willingness to foster debate and research were an inspiration across the Museum sector.

Jonathan published extensively; developed exhibitions, presented lectures and seminars on art, museums and cultural heritage both nationally and internationally. His expertise was widely sought and he had served on numerous advisory and governance bodies throughout his career. In recent years he has divided his time between academia and the museum profession in leadership roles at the University of Auckland and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Jonathan gave generously of his time and expertise and his contributions were recognized with several national awards.

Jonathan is survived by his partner Paul Bushnell and sister Moea.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

11 Oct 2014

The Big Idea Editor