Britomart is a place founded on making connections. Our active social sustainability programme creates arts and culture events designed to foster an enhanced sense of connection to community and place. These are some of the highlights of our arts and cultural programming from the past year.  

Te Tīmatanga 

A collaboration with Auckland Pride in February 2022, Te Tīmatanga (the beginning) was an art trail that featured the work of three Takatāpui artists. Kahu Kutia (Ngāi Tūhoe) (she/her) created a work on Galway Street (right) entitled Te Pō/ when we were erased we came back here, visually influenced by woven whāriki patterns and featuring a poem about the infinite potential of the darkness that preceded the world's origins. Hana Burgess (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) (she/her) devised Infinite Formations, a poster series for Customs Street that explored Māori futurism beyond colonial confines (previous spread). Te Tīnana, a work by Liam Brown (Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairoa, Tūhoe) explored the body through abstracted self-portraiture, and featured on panels in the Atrium on Takutai. The art trail ran throughout Britomart, Commercial Bay and Wynyard Quarter for the duration of the Pride Festival. 

To Grow Roots Where They Land

To celebrate Lunar New Year 2022, Britomart worked with artist Talia Pua to showcase the stories of Chinese immigrants to Aotearoa New Zealand. Early Chinese immigrants to the country were predominantly men, who first sought their fortunes in the Otago goldfields. Later arrivals worked as market gardeners, laundrymen and fruiterers, many of them struggling to pay an onerous poll tax imposed on Chinese migrants by the government. Talia’s project involved interviewing the descendants of the first influx of Chinese women immigrants in 1939 who were given permission to join their husbands in New Zealand and escape the havoc of the Sino-Japanese war. As well as highlighting this transformative period for Chinese New Zealanders and the country, Talia’s project focused on the unfairness of past immigration policies and the intolerance many of the migrants faced when they came to New Zealand. 

Whale Tales

The World Wildlife Fund’s Whale Tales Art Trail raised awareness of (and funds for) ocean conservation with the placement of more than 80 fibreglass ‘whale tails’ painted by different artists throughout the city. Britomart was proud to support the art trail with sponsorship and hosting of two tails: one by artist Talia Pua, and the other by artist Greer Clayton. The art trail was popular with families and school children, who were regularly seen passing through Britomart to tick the tails of their trail lists.

The Art of Tivaevae

Britomart collaborated with Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira to produce The Art of Tivaevae, a celebration of the hand-sewn bed coverings made by women of the Cook Islands and in the collection of the museum. Fuli Pereira, curator of the museum’s Pacific and World collections, selected the photographs of tivaevae with her colleague, Andrea Low, which were made into 15 large panels adorning the side of Britomart’s Pavilions. The exhibition was part of the City of Colour Festival, one of the many central city revitalisation efforts after Auckland’s lockdowns.

Wharenui Harikoa 

Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole are artists who are currently creating Wharenui Harikoa (House of Joy), a full-size wharenui that they are crocheting loop by hand-crafted loop. Lissy and Rudi see the wharenui as a space for cross-cultural communication, where Māori, Pākehā and Tauiwi can gather, heal and hold conversations about a brighter future for a decolonised Aotearoa New Zealand. For Matariki 2022, Britomart featured photographs by Russ Flatt of Wharenui Harikoa as a work in progress, and invited Rudi and Lissy to hold a four-day residency in one of the precinct’s retail spaces, where they held free daily crochet workshops and a public talk.

Onga mei he tapa fa (sounds from the four corners)

Artist Sione Faletau created Onga mei he tapa fa (sounds from the four corners), a series of works in which he developed kupesi (patterns) from sound recordings taken in the Atrium on Takutai and Takutai Square. The work was made in conjunction with Ongo Ongo, a video that was a centrepiece of Turning a page, starting a chapter, an exhibition at nearby Gus Fisher Gallery. "There's this kind of repetition within the architecture of these patterns, and in that I saw links to my traditional Tongan culture, where tapa cloth has the same kind of repetition with these repeated geometric motifs," Sione says. The exhibition was staged in the Atrium as part of the City of Colour Festival.

Twin Cultivation

Twin Cultivation was an installation by artist Cindy Huang, producer Rosabel Tan and designer Micheal McCabe that reflected on relations between tangata whenua and Asian immigrants. Drawing on the history of market gardens in the Auckland region, the installation (which featured furniture by designer Micheal McCabe) set up interactions between strangers, who were led through a series of questions by a host and were then invited to gift each other ceramic vegetables crafted by Cindy. Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga, Twin Cultivation invited visitors to use Matariki (traditionally marking the end of the harvest period) as a time of reflection on notions of belonging. The encounter sessions were booked out through Twin Cultivation’s week in Takutai Square. 

Te Pā Harakeke

Britomart celebrated the first-ever Matariki public holiday by hosting Te Pā Harakeke in Takutai Square, an inspirational day of Māori food, music and kapa haka performances. Thousands of people gathered throughout the day, enjoying the festival atmosphere and the huge variety of musical entertainment.

To Fashion 

This collaboration with the NZ Fashion Museum and photographer Edith Amatuanai resulted in an arresting exhibition on the Pavilion Panels on Te Ara Tahuhu, where a diverse range of New Zealanders posed in their favourite outfits and talked about the complexities and joys of self-presentation through clothes. This thoughtfully curated show was part of the Auckland Arts Festival and re-presented fashion as an exploration of identity. QR codes on the panels opened audio recordings of each of the people photographed discussing their clothing selections. During the exhibition, a street style photographer roamed Britomart and took images of people that they could share on their own social media accounts. 

NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year

NZ Geographic magazine's Photographer of the Year award is a snapshot of a nation as well as being the country's most prestigious photographic award. Expert photographers from across the country submit entries in categories including Landscape, Wildlife, Society, Aerial, Built Environment and Adventure. Britomart collaborated with NZ Geographic magazine to display the finalists on our Pavilion Panels and the Atrium on Takutai and invite public votes on the People's Choice Award. The exhibition was part of Britomart's participation in the second annual Auckland Climate Festival. 

Makers Market 

We worked with Yoko Shimoyama, the proprietor of Britomart store Wonder Journal, to present the Makers Market, a quarterly event in Te Ara Tahuhu where Britomart provides free space and promotion for a gathering of local craftspeople and artisans, including ceramicists, candle makers, carpenters and more. These events have been increasingly well-attended, generating income and publicity for a range of small local businesses and connecting them with a greater number of potential customers.

NEXT / Hear how one of Britomart's longest-established fashion retailers is tackling sustainability, as Karen Walker tells us how to restructure a supply chain.