22 Apr 2024

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Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive | Pou Whakahaere

Stephen Wainwright and Caren Rangi

Toi Aotearoa Chair Caren Rangi resigned in April. We gathered to acknowledge and celebrate Caren’s significant contribution to the work of Toi Aotearoa over 12 years, with the past three as Chair. 

Caren joined us in 2012 under the previous legal structure as the Cook Islands representative on the Pacific Arts Committee. The Committee Chair assured Caren she was there for a ‘one year gig’ while the legislation changed.

When the Unitary Council was formed in 2014, Caren was persuaded to stay on. She then became a founding member of the 2014 Council. On the way to becoming Chair, she was Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee, served as one of our two Pasifika representatives, and became Deputy Chair. One year turned into 12.

The tikanga at our farewell was lovely. Caren was adorned in the kakahu gifted to us by renowned weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa; this holds significant mana and provides for lovely circularity and completeness as Caren was adorned with the same kakahu when she became Chair.

Caren was resplendent in her ei and ei katu and became laden with adornment as the night went on, with lei made by our Pasifika staff. 

We presented a taonga, the Creative New Zealand tohu, carved in pounamu to Cliff Whiting’s design. The gifting reflects the significance of Caren’s many contributions and her legacy to our organisation.

Stephen Wainwright

In our world of culture and creativity, relationships are at the heart of what we do; all the speakers referred to the warmth and engagement that is synonymous with Caren. It was special to be reminded of the many communities Caren is engaged with including the arts, governance, local government, Cook Islands and Pacific communities, and Hawke’s Bay.

Haniko Te Kurapa, our Senior Manager Te Kaupapa o Toi Aotearoa closed the event with a  whakatauki: 

Me manawa kuaka tātou – let’s all be like the godwit bird (staying strong in the face of adversity) and firm in our direction. 

Each year the godwit migrates from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days, returning to home here in Aotearoa. Caren has given us direction and will always have a home here.

Arts Council member Hilary Poole will assume the Chair’s responsibilities from 1 May 2024 until a new Chair is appointed by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

As this is published, the arts community is celebrating Mataaho Collective being awarded a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. Promoting international recognition of our artists is part of our purpose. Given Caren’s contribution as a Venice Commissioner and the Arts Council’s support for the Venice delegation this year, it is fitting that her sign off coincides with this significant international accolade.