The Friends of Te Papa are delighted to congratulate Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Head of Arts & Visual Culture, on his appointment as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM).  Jonathan regularly contributed to the Friends’ programme when Director of Art and Collection Services at Te Papa.  His extensive knowledge of and passion for New Zealand and European art and architecture, and his exceptional teaching skills, ensured that his talks and lectures were not only informative but also hugely enjoyed by all and a highlight of the Friends’ programme.  Jonathan has always been very generous with his time and as a life member of the Friends of Te Papa continues to be a great supporter. The Friends are thrilled that Jonathan’s significant contribution to the arts in New Zealand has now been fittingly recognised with his CNZM in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Below is the acknowledgement from Acting Chief Executive Arapata Hakiwai on behalf of Te Papa staff.

On behalf of all Te Papa staff, I would like to congratulate Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Head of Arts & Visual Culture, who was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

As one of New Zealand’s leading scholars, researchers and practitioners of Māori art, Jonathan has had a significant impact on shaping Te Papa, and its role as the guardian of the national art collection. He first joined Te Papa in 2004 as the Director of Art and Collection Services, and immediately set about developing a strategic framework for art at Te Papa ensuring the national collection be given more prominence. Jonathan became an Honorary Research Associate in 2012. He returned to Te Papa in 2013 as Head of Arts and Visual Culture and is responsible for setting the intellectual direction for Te Papa’s art programme, leading collection development and building curatorial capability. Jonathan has continued to affirm Te Papa’s position as a leading cultural and arts institution not only in New Zealand, but also in the international arena.

He has been responsible for some of Te Papa’s most significant and successful international art exhibitions, including Monet and the Impressionists; Constable: Impressionism of Land, Sea and Sky; and Holbein to Hockney: Drawings from the Royal Collection. Since his return, he has provided research and leadership to the curatorial team of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, Te Papa’s most recent art show based on regular seasonal changes enabling the Museum to showcase more of the national art collection, more often.

It is rare for someone to have a mix of in-depth knowledge of Mātauranga Māori coupled with a deep understanding of international art history and its movements. This has enabled him, more than any other art historian or curator in the country, to place New Zealand and Māori art within a worldwide context.  His unique understanding and perspective also speaks to Te Papa’s commitment to biculturalism.

I have enjoyed working alongside Jonathan for many years. As a professional, Jonathan carries great mana, shares his knowledge willingly and freely and as a mentor, I know Jonathan’s expertise and wisdom has inspired numerous colleagues, young art curators, art historians, artists and students. I’m sure you will agree he that is well deserving of the respect of his colleagues and the high regard shown by his peers.

He has been pivotal to Te Papa telling the story of the true richness and breadth of New Zealand’s art heritage. His long standing commitment and passion to Māori art history has been exemplary and his recent Marsden Research project ‘Toi Te Mana: A history of indigenous art from Aotearoa New Zealand’ is further testimony to that.

Jonathan has served on a wide range of national and international bodies including the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand; the Humanities Panel and Council of the Marsden Fund; the Council and Humanities and Social Sciences Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand; and the Advisory Council of the (Renzo Piano-designed) Centre Culturel Tjibaou in Noumea. In 2012, he was awarded the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the Humanities” and he has also been the 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.

Again, our heartfelt congratulations to you Jonathan. This is a significant achievement and your commitment to the arts has been duly honoured.