Mahiriki Tangaroa: Earth, Wind & Fire...Irrespective of Place

22 July - 17 August 2019 Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga
For a moment, let's imagine our society without history, religion, politics, ancient traditions, and what we consider to be 'culture'. What would we have? If we were to start building, where would we start? 

Opening Speakers:

Tina Browne, Leader of the Opposition | MP for Rakahanga
Brett Porter, Director, TOA Petroleum
Mahiriki Tangaroa, Exhibiting Artist


The concept for this exhibition developed when national discussions re-emerged about a proposed name change away from the Cook Islands or its local vernacular 'Kuki Airani'. As an advocate for cultural identity, this is a topic that I feel strongly about and, the question formed in my mind, 'is this a national priority?


Cook Islands society is experiencing substantial social changes including, continuing depopulation and a rising level of foreign labour, poor public health and education standards, rapid cultural evolution and access to technology and, record breaking numbers in tourism arrivals with its associated impact on outdated national infrastructure and the environment. How effectively are we addressing these changes?

Do we have the foundation to support and manage these changes? Are we protecting our community and resources? Are the political, traditional and private sector leadership pillars of society taking responsibility and serving the needs of the people? Where do we see ourselves in twenty years time? Surely these are priorities far and beyond an abstract backlash to a colonial era country name.


The exhibition Earth, Wind & Fire, Irrespective of Place, is about life's key elements. It is about stepping back, attempting to maintain an objective view of our breakable island environment, about identifying fundamental necessities and marrying them with our values and priorities as Cook Islanders. It questions whether or not we have our priorities in perspective.