Ngahiraka Mason

Ngahiraka Mason, Independent Indigenous Curator & Visual Historian, Hira, Honolulu, Hawaii

Titled The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference took place 15-17 November in Sydney hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Day 1: Friday 15 November
Challenging the Narrative: Indigenous Perspectives


At Every Intersection We Meet

The two case studies in this presentation are about exhibitions I delivered for Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in Auckland, New Zealand. They represent the first and last projects I made for the art gallery and were complicated and powerful for Māori communities and the museum. The results from these endeavors marked a change in the way that the art museum worked with the realities of Māori communities, demonstrating that collaboration, persistence, and courage can make for positive ends.

The third project I address is an exhibition proposal by an elder from Hauraki on the Coromandel Coast of the North Island. This exhibition did not eventuate but lives on in the hearts and minds of Māori people as a yet to be realized opportunity for in-depth conversations about visual history and museum politics. I contend that Māori peoples bear optimism forward, and this is demonstrated each time we share our human stories with museums and the world, further suggesting that generosity, determination, and openness sits at every intersection we meet.


Ngahiraka Mason is an independent curator and visual historian, with research and curatorial interests in the material culture and histories of Polynesian peoples, descendant and community relationships with museum's and collections.
Mason is the former Indigenous Curator, Maori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, New Zealand's oldest and largest public art museum. Her exhibitions and publications focus on historical, modern and contemporary art.
Recent projects include Dot I Line I Color (2018), Honolulu, Middle of Now/Here, the inaugural Honolulu Biennial (2017) and the International touring exhibition Gottfried Lindauer's New Zealand (2014-17). Mason lives and works in Honolulu, Hawaii.