Jonathan Mane-Wheoki

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki

E te uri whakaheke o Rāhiri, kua riro koe i te whītiki o te kī. E te manu hakahaka o ngā mahi toi, rere atu rā ki te marea e tatari mai rā i roto i ngā kapua tawatawa. Haere atu rā e te tohunga mahi toi. Haere, haere, haere atu rā.

To the descendent of Rāhiri, a man of great integrity who has left us behind. The angel of the arts, fly off to the many who await your arrival in the heavens. Farewell, a tohunga of the arts. Farewell … 

Many of you will be aware that Te Papa is preparing to farewell our colleague, friend and mentor Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kurī, Te Aupōuri, Pākehā). One of New Zealand’s leading art historians, he had a lasting impact on the arts and cultural sector in New Zealand. This includes Te Papa where, as Head of Arts and Visual Cultures, he was a generous and valued mentor with a passion for art history in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Earlier this year, we were able to celebrate with him when his life-long contribution to the arts was acknowledged by his appointment as Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). Always willing to give his time and expertise, he served on a wide range of national and international bodies, including Creative New Zealand, New Zealand Venice Biennale Selection Panels, and the Advisory Council of the Centre Culturel Tjibaou in Noumea. He was a member of Haerewa (the Māori Advisory Committee) of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, an Honorary Life member of the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Friends of Te Papa, and a patron of the Auckland Theatre Company, to name just a few.

In 2012, Jonathan was awarded the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the Humanities”, and he was also a recipient of a Marsden Fund Grant for a research project on Māori art history. In 2008, the University of Canterbury awarded him an honorary doctorate, in recognition of his longstanding work exploring and promoting contemporary Māori art.

Service and Tangi Arrangements
A delegation from Te Papa, led by Arapata Hakiwai, Acting Chief Executive and Kaihautu, will leave Wellington on Friday to support the family to take Jonathan on to Waipapa Marae, at the University of Auckland, where he’ll lie in state until the next morning. The Te Papa delegation will also attend a Requiem Mass for Jonathan at Auckland’s  Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell on Saturday (10.30am to 12.30pm). After the Requiem Mass, Jonathan will be taken to Piki Te Aroha Marae in Horeke, Northland, for his tangi.  On Sunday after a funeral service Jonathan will be laid to rest next to his beloved father, Hetiraka.

Messages of sympathy to Jonathan’s loved-ones can be sent to:  Paul Bushnell, 49 Rutherford Tce, Meadowbank, Auckland 1072.

A Tribute at Te Papa
A tribute display showing Colin McCahon’s A grain of wheat, 1970, from Te Papa’s collection, will be installed at the front entrance to Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, on level five.  There will also be a framed photograph of Jonathan, a tribute text and a condolences book where people can add their reflections.  The display will remain for about a month.

The significance of the McCahon painting lies with Jonathan’s passion for the  work of McCahon, particularly in relation to its potent spirituality. The text on the painting quotes the biblical passage from John 12:24:

IN TRUTH, in very truth, I tell you, a grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and DIES, but if it dies it becomes a rich harvest.

Jonathan leaves a remarkable legacy of those who have been inspired by his personality, work, writing and his teaching.

For more information read an appreciation from Mark Stocker and  Te Papa’s media release.


Feature image: Detail from: Jonathan in action before a McCahon painting.  Photographer unknown. Image courtesy of Estate of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki