City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Come and Play Michael Parekōwhai’s Piano

Exhibition now closed.

A unique opportunity to play this spectacular artwork and help fill the Gallery with sound.

There is no object I could make. . . that could fill a room like sound can.
—Michael Parekōwhai, 2011

Michael Parekōwhai’s spectacular sculpture He Kōrero Pūrākau mō te Awanui o te Motu: Story of a New Zealand River is a Steinway grand piano, and it’s designed to be played.

There are three timeslots available each day for members of the public to play the piano. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to be able to play comfortably for 15-30 minutes.

Solo performances, no singing, other musicians or instruments. The music choice is over to you. Children are welcome to play, those under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. The Gallery will be open to the public throughout, so bring along your family and friends to share the experience.

About the artwork: 

Created by Michael Parekōwhai for the 2011 Venice Biennale, He Kōrero Pūrākau mō te Awanui o te Motu: Story of a New Zealand River is a bright red Steinway grand piano embellished with intricately-carved Māori motifs. It challenges our expectations around the relationship between Māori and European cultures. Art critic Justin Paton asks, “Is it a European instrument decorated with Māori carving, or a Māori carving that has engulfed a piece of European high culture?”

Parekōwhai’s work is re-presented at City Gallery as part of the exhibition This Is New Zealand, which takes a critical look at New Zealand national identity, at the stories we’ve told ourselves—and others—about who we are.