That name rolls off the tongue – Aratoi. A Masterton-based museum and art space. Every town in New Zealand seems to have, or want to have, a museum and an art gallery. I think it’s an art gallery but it seems to be much more than that. It says “Aratoi” means “pathways”. Pathways to art, history and community participation. A provincial space of community importance. Where did this community and this art space come from?
“Masterton was founded in 1854 by the Small Farms Association. The association was led by Joseph Masters – after whom the town was named – and aimed to settle working people in villages and on the land. At first Masterton grew slowly, but as its farming hinterland became more productive it began to prosper.
In the 1870s it overtook Greytown as Wairarapa’s major town. It became a borough in 1877 and was reached by the railway line from Wellington in 1880. The railway became for a time the main line from Wellington to the north of New Zealand and its arrival cemented the town’s position as the Wairarapa region’s main market and distribution centre…..
Masterton (Māori: Whakaoriori) is a large town in the Greater Wellington Region of New Zealand and the seat of the Masterton District (a territorial authority or local government district). It is the largest town in the Wairarapa, a region separated from Wellington by the Rimutaka ranges. It is 100 kilometres north-east of Wellington, 39.4 kilometres south of Eketahuna, on the Ruamahanga River.
Masterton has an urban population of 20,100, and district population of 26,800 (June 2019). Masterton businesses include services for surrounding farmers. Three new industrial parks are being developed in Waingawa, Solway and Upper Plain. The town is the headquarters of the annual Golden Shears sheep-shearing competition.” …..
Before it was Masterton it was (and still is) Whakoriori: “The local Te Oreore marae and Ngā Tau e Waru meeting house are affiliated with the iwi of Ngāti Kahungunu and its hapū of Kahukuraawhitia, Kahukuranui, Ngāti Te Hina, Tahu o Kahungunu, Tamahau and Whiunga, and with the iwi of Rangitāne, and its hapū of Hinetearorangi, Ngāi Tamahau, Ngāti Hāmua, Ngāti Taimahu, Ngāti Tangatakau, Ngāti Te Noti, Ngāti Te Raetea and Ngāti Te Whātui.
Entry to Aratoi is by donation – please give what you can. Aratoi is a registered charity.
Aratoi also serves as a performance art space, an educational centre, and has an eclectic gift shop.
Not far from Aratoi are a range of other activities and places:
Next door is Entice Cafe, a very family-friendly cafe with great coffee. The Masterton i-SITE Visitor Centre is just next door, and beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park is over the road. A few metres away is The Wool Shed, New Zealand’s national museum of sheep and shearing. You can see this is a cool part of Masterton to check out!
There’s always something fascinating at Aratoi, the Wairarapa’s largest museum. You’ll discover national and Wairarapa displays, exquisite Māori taonga/treasures, ceramics, paintings, photography, children’s art, textiles, and much more.” 2
I think it speaks volumes about Aotearoa New Zealand that in almost every provincial centre and town you’ll find a commitment to arts, history and wider local culture and an increasing inclusive and flexible definitiion of what they are are or might be.
History at Aratoi:
People at Aratoi:
Aratoi has a wonderful website including Virtual Aratoi https://www.aratoi.org.nz/virtual-aratoi
While we’re Aotearoa-bound we don’t need to fret as there is so much to go and see, to go and do around New Zealand. And no matter where you live in Aotearoa just around the corner will be something breathtaking, interesting, creatively exciting. And if you don’t want to leave the warmth of your sitting room fire there’s a virtual world of Aotearoa waiting for you – visit it!
1.Wikipedia, Masterton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masterton
2.Wairarapa Tourism Information site https://wairarapanz.com/see-and-do/aratoi-wairarapa-museum-art-history
3. Aratoi – Wairarapa Museum of Art and History https://www.aratoi.org.nz/
This article has been compiled from information and articles available online.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand