Ayesha Green

2. The Spirit of the Thing Given (Māori)
// Opening Wednesday 26th April 2017, 6pm 
// 27 April – 20 May 2017

Makereti born in 1872, also known as Guide Maggie, Margaret Thom, Margaret Dennan, Maggie Papakura, and Margaret Staples-Brown, was one of three children of Pia Ngarotu Te Rihi, of Tūhourangi and Ngāti Wāhiao, and William Arthur Thom, an Englishman and former soldier from the colonial militiai (Werry 2011:51).

She was raised by Māori relatives in Whakarewarewa and the nearby village of Parekārangi, spending time at the village school in Ōhinemutu. As a young teenager she spent three years at Hukarere College, a state school for Māori girls that offered academic curriculum and training in domestic duties, preparing students for the gendered work of racial uplift prescribed by Māori reform movements of the era and for the assimilation to European custom favored by mission and state bodies (ibid).

Maggie Papakura was a guide at Whakarewarewa from 1893-1911, and reached celebrity status by hosting the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in 1901. At the height of her fame, Guide Maggie assumed a role in the Pākehā public sphere: the state appointed Rotorua as the symbolic capital of Māoridom, Guide Maggie became the public face of the idealized Māori (Werry 2011: 54).

She fulfilled the romantic imaginary of Māori assimilation and racial harmony; she was “exotic” but spoke perfect English. She performed to the “Pākehā wish-image”(Werry 2011:59). Her dealings as a host and a business woman were enforced through her hospitality; she was charming and conducted herself gracefully. She demonstrated that edict could be learned and was not attributed to wealth or birthright, her conduct was the highest example of Māori modernity, progression, and assimilation.

In 1911 Guide Maggie took a performance tour group of forty to England, although returned to New Zealand shortly after due to lack of funds. However Guide Maggie returned to England one year later, now wed as Margaret Staples-Brown. She spent eighteen years in Oxford and in solitude created a “Māori room” (Werry 2011:86), adorned with taonga from Whakarewarewa. She was a student at Oxford University, although she studied in isolation. In 1930 she died suddenly. However, her thesis on Māori life and customs, “The Old-Time Māori”, was published posthumously in 1938.

The world that Makereti was born into was a place where New Zealand nationalism was being forged. The idealised version of ourselves, as people, and our place in the world, was being imagined. In the field of tourism our story was born, we look at ourselves, looking at others looking at us.

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Ayesha Green (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai Tahu) (1987) is an Auckland based painter. She completed a diploma in Museums and Cultural Heritage in 2016 and gained her MFA at Elam in 2013. Recent exhibitions include Biographies of Transition: Too Busy To Think, Artspace (2017), On The Grounds, Starkwhite Gallery (2017), and Seagers Walters at Mirage Gallery (2016).