ARTISTS Phil Dadson, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, Gregory O’Brien, Jason O’Hara, John Pule, John Reynolds, Elizabeth Thomson, Robin White ORGANISERS Tauranga Art Gallery, Pew Environment Group OTHER VENUES Tauranga Art Gallery, 19 November 2011–6 February 2012 PUBLICATION essay Gregory O’Brien
In May 2011, nine artists voyaged, on the HMNZS Otago, from Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, north through the Kermadec region, toward the Kingdom of Tonga. These seariders were selected because of their connection to the Pacific—through ancestry and upbringing, art and interest. They were invited by Pew Environment Group’s Kermadec Initiative, which encourages protection of this heritage-rich and biologically diverse ocean environment as a sanctuary. Contained within New Zealand territorial waters, the Kermadec region is one of the few remaining near-pristine ocean sites on the planet. Its subtropical islands sit at the northernmost point of New Zealand's territory and have a history of Polynesian and European contact that has rarely registered in our national psyche. The week-long voyage provided an opportunity for the artists to experience the region's rolling seas, weather, and wildlife. The works they produced in response utilise an abundance of materials, methods, and ideas sourced from Pacific handcrafts, poetry, waiata, jewellery, maritime painting traditions, and scientific photography.