Festival Homecoming for New Zealand artists


Media Release: February, 2008. 

Aniwaniwa floods City Gallery Wellington with dark images of the past 

While the sinking city of Venice was a perfect setting for Aniwaniwa, with its watery themes of submersion to represent cultural loss, Wellington is savouring the chance to host its homecoming. New Zealand artists Brett Graham and Rachel Rakena’s powerful, large scale installation will be at City Gallery Wellington from February 23 as part of the Gallery’s programme for the 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival. Direct from a triumphant season at the 52nd Venice Biennale, where it garnered considerable interest for ongoing international presentation, Aniwaniwa incorporates the latest music, lighting and video technology to envelop audiences with haunting memories of a place now underwater.

Rachael Rakena (Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi) and Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura) not only highlight the flooding of the Waikato Village of Horahora to create Lake Karapiro, but use flooding and immersion to reflect on the international issues of rising sea levels and global warming. Locally, Aniwaniwa refers to personal and cultural loss; the work focuses on the rapids at the narrowest point of the Waikato River by Horahora where Graham’s father was born and his Grandfather worked at the power station. In 1947 the town was flooded to create a hydro-electric dam downstream and many historic sites significant to Graham’s hapu were lost forever.

Aniwaniwa is a collection of suspended wakahuia (treasure boxes) with internal projections and sound components suspended from the ceiling. Together with the captivating soundtrack by renowned musician Whirimako Black, internationally acclaimed opera singer Deborah Wai Kapohe and Paddy Free of Pitch Black, they evoke the blackness of deep waters, storm clouds and a sense of bewilderment and disorientation as one is tossed beneath the waters.

In Aniwaniwa water is not only the consumer of histories but the vehicle by which histories are retold. Like much of Rakena’s works, Māori identity is explored as being in a state of flux, which like the borders of a river, are constantly being redefined. Likewise, water is churned into electricity; electricity is transformed into light. Light makes such a work possible and in a sense returns to a new generation memories of a town now consumed by water.

Aniwaniwa was selected by Venice Biennale curator Professor Robert Storr, as a Biennale Collateral event.


23 February - 15 June, 2008.

City Gallery Wellington