Riona Whero Cross

Gina Matchitt (b.1966), Artist 1999 © All rights reserved See full details

Object Detail

Riona Whero Cross is from a series called 'Merchandise' that was exhibited at the Royal Jewellery Studio in November 1999. Within this series Matchitt critiques the consequences of colonisation that continue to cause harm to Maori people today, such as the introduction of alcohol and cigarettes. In Riona Whero Cross Matchitt draws attention to the marketing techniques of alcohol brands that target Maori through their use of imagery and colour. For eaxmple, many alcohol brands use red, a colour that is significant within Maori culture. In this work, the combination of the cross form with an aluminium beer can refernces the colonising influence of Christian missionaries alongside the negative influences of European settlers on Maori ways of life.

The artist says "my idea was to examine colonizing forces past and present and combine them....think particularly that red as a sacred Maori colour was used to market to Maori and the Lion, well Lion breweries but very macho King of the jungle, head of the pack, regal appeal. " (email to Sian van Dyk 15 October 2013). In the catalogue accompanying Merchandise, Deidre Brown writes about the term 'whakanoa' and its use in relation to Matchitt's series. She writes, 'Whakanoa (to free form restriction or danger) is a Maori custom which allows for the appropriation and remodelling of oppressive symbols so that they can serves new and more empowering purposes. Matchitt's latest works are a skillful manifestation of early 21st century whakanoa a form of counter-globalisation that has arisen as the result of a number of life experiences.'

This work was purchased for The Dowse collection in order to enhance the collection of jewellery and body adornment as well as reflect The Dowse's commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. This work also questions the ways the value of art is calculated and considered.
Riona Whero Cross
Production date
aluminium, fine silver, stainless steel wire
68 x 46mm (h x w)
Credit line
Collection of The Dowse Art Museum, purchased 2000
Accession number

Part of 1 highlight set