Pataka Porirua: A Cultural Jewel

Years ago nobody came out here from Wellington, but now we have a steady stream. Brendan from Pataka

Pataka A classy museum and art gallery

 By Roger Childs

If you haven’t discovered Pataka in Porirua, don’t hesitate to get along there. It’s one of the Wellington region’s cultural taonga. The ART + MUSEUM always has quality exhibitions and there are a gallery shop, café and library close by.

It’s very accessible from State Highway One and is located on the corner of Norrie and Parumoana Streets in Porirua City. The current displays are up there with their best, headed by their mouth-watering CHOCOLATE exhibition.

All you wanted to know about chocolate but were afraid to ask!

From the cacao pod to the manufactured slab, we tell the enticing story of chocolate. Come and discover the history and development of chocolate from a food of the Mayan Gods 1500 years ago to being a universal favourite today. Pataka website

Chocolate This is a fabulous show. It has been designed by the Bob Maysmor who creativity is world class. Some readers may recall his magnificent visuals covering the history of money a few years back.

Bob knows just how much detail to put into his displays and the mix of visuals and text is appealing and easily absorbed.

The “chocolate show” features

  • mouth-watering visuals but sadly no free samples!
  • a series of displays on the history of chocolate from Mayan times to the present day
  • detail on the all the equatorial countries where cocoa is grown today
  • information on the history of the big companies like Cadbury, Fry, Hershey, Nestle and others
  • a great display on our own Kiwi chocolate maker: J H Whittaker & Sons. They have a local chocolate factory.
  • a video on the Whittaker’s organization including some hilarious television commercials on their “good honest chocolate”
  • two videos on the dark side of chocolate: highlighting the virtual slave labour of children.

Exploiting children for cocoa production is rife, especially in Africa, and it’s estimated that over a million kids are ‘employed’ in the industry. One child, Drissa, graphically summed up the issue When people eat chocolate they are eating my flesh.

 Many companies like Whittakers are now into fair trade chocolate.

 CHOCOLATE is on until 6 April: not to be missed!

Blood facesBlood Faces: a dying tattoo tradition in Myanmar (Burma)

 This exhibit features a striking set of photographs of the faces of Chin women. The Chin are one of many hill tribes in this ancient land.

The photos are the work of German photographer Jens Uwe Parkitny and they show a unique style of full face tattooing. The styles are a sign of

  • tribal allegiance
  • status
  • beauty
  • religious beliefs
  • courage.

He has captured a remarkable set of faces for posterity. The practice had become a dying art.

BLOOD FACES is on until 1 June: fascinating!

Plenty of artistic originality

Meridian lines There are currently a number of works from New Zealand artists such as Ani O’Neill, Bill Hammond, John Pule, Gordon Walters, Michael Parekowhai, Ralph Hotere and Yuk King Tan.

They collectively exhibited as part of the reopening of the China Art Museum in Shanghai last year. Entitled Meridian Lines: Contemporary Art from Te Papa the exhibition received critical acclaim from the Chinese audiences according to Pataka’s Sarah Farrar.

One of the most striking and creative items is Yuk King Tan’s series of red wax masks with draping yarns showing the animals from the Chinese calendar and herself. (See alongside.)

Focus on Tokelau

 TokelauThere are less than 10,000 Tokelauans and over 80% of them live in New Zealand. Porirua has the largest single community. The exhibition highlights the plight of the three Tokelauan atolls which are barely above sea level.

Climate change and the likely rise in sea level will quickly put most of this tiny Pacific group under water. Tokelau is also very vulnerable to cyclones.

There is a lot of interesting detail and photographs about the Tokelauan way of life

  • the communal traditions
  • sharing fishing catches round the community
  • the unique style of cricket
  • migration to New Zealand.

There are also hands-on activities for young and old.

This exhibition is on until 13 April.

 Something for everyone

 Pataka caters for a wide variety of interests in the arts, culture and history. There is also a great children’s section with plenty of hands-on opportunities for kids to be creative and have fun.