Art mogul Jonathan Mane-Wheoki dies

Last updated 13:22 11/10/2014
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ
MUCH-LOVED: Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has died.

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Prominent and much-loved New Zealand art curator, academic, and historian Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has died.

He passed peacefully yesterday evening, the Auckland Art Gallery reported.

A leading scholar of Maori art, he held roles as dean of music and fine arts at the University of Canterbury, head of Elam Art School, head of arts and visual culture at Te Papa, and served on a wide range of relevant national and international bodies, including as a member of Te Haerewa, Auckland Art Gallery's Maori Advisory Group.

"Jonathan remains a highly influential pioneer in the development of contemporary Maori and Pacific art and art history, his contribution has been profound," Gallery director Rhana Devenport said.

"He will be long remembered for his powerful support and advocacy for contemporary Maori art practice and for being a brilliant and strong Maori voice in the fields of art history, architecture, fine arts education, cultural exchange and critical writing, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally."

Mane-Wheoki received numerous distinctions particularly for his contribution to ensuring Maori and Pacific arts had a place in the national consciousness.

In August this year, he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. At the time, aged 70 and suffering from terminal cancer, he said he was prepared to die

"I am relaxed about it, what else can I be?"

He had recently been north to the Hokianga, where he grew up, to see where his iwi (Ngāpuhi, Te Aupouri, and Ngāti Kuri) would bury him.

After the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the respected architectural historian spoke out in support of saving the Christ Church Cathedral. He said the church was part of the city's identity, sensibility, and its "heart".

He was known for his dedication to arts organisations and academia, but Mane-Wheoki was also a talented artist. In an interview in 2009,  he revealed famous painter Colin McCahon spoke highly of his abilities.

He is survived by his partner Paul Bushnell and sister Moea. 

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