Dr Brett Graham’s (Ngaati Koroki Kahukura) limestone sculptures, titled Plot 150, were made as part of the commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Waikato wars of 1863-64.
Each of the six discs – St Johns, Wairoa, Tuakau, Pokeno, Meremere and Pirongia – recalls a specific military redoubt located between Auckland and Waikato.
They chart the path of the British and colonial troops as they set out to overcome Maaori resistance to the settlers’ desire for land.
Growing up in South Auckland and Waikato, Graham, son of fellow renowned sculptor Fred Graham (Ngaati Koroki Kahukura), was acutely aware of these relics of the wars and associated land confiscation.
“[Plot 150] is a counter-narrative to the idea that our nation was born in Gallipoli,” he says. “There is renewed interest and emphasis on the Waikato Wars, which has resulted in the Government gifting a day to commemorate them.”
Plot 150 was hand-delivered by Graham to the museum, where it was blessed with a karakia.
“I’m really thrilled Waikato Museum has acquired Plot 150. It is the most appropriate place for them. My father and I have a long association with the museum so ultimately this was the best place to look after them.”
The artwork is the first purchase by the museum with its $50,000 annual acquisition fund, re-established last year after a six-year hiatus.
Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says acquiring Plot 150 has been a long process, but well worth the wait.
“Given Brett’s connection to the Waikato, the fact that the works tell a poignant and important Waikato story, we felt they should belong in our collection and to the people of the region.”
About Brett Graham
Brett Graham is a prominent contemporary New Zealand artist, highly regarded for his ability to abstract complex political, historical and cultural ideas into strong sculptural form.
His work has been included in exhibitions all over the world, including the Venice Biennale 2007, the Sydney Biennale 2006 and 2010 and the 2013 survey of international indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada