Pushing the boundaries of contemporary Māori art, Artspace Aotearoa in association with the Auckland Arts Festival presents the debut solo exhibition Ōtairongo, by artist Maree Sheehan. In Ōtairongo, Sheehan seeks to interpret and represent the identity of wāhine Māori through audio-portraiture, experienced within the realm of Hine Raukatauri. Ōtairongo will be the first exhibition to be presented in the new Artspace Aotearoa gallery on the ground floor of Karangahape Road.

Ōtairongo presents audio portraits of three mana wahine Māori - Moana Maniapoto, Te Rita Papesch and Ramon Te Wake through the use of immersive binaural sound-capture technologies. These works are presented in darkness, elevating aural perception and approaching a renegotiation of how wāhine Māori might be interpreted and represented.

Experience the audio portraits

Best experienced with headphones

Find a dark quiet place

Relax and make yourself comfortable

Maree Sheehan

Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato,
Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Raukawa, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whāoa

Maree Sheehan is a sound artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her practice incorporates years of experience in the composition and research of sound portraiture that has lead to the creation of her debut solo exhibition Ōtairongo. Having recently completed a PhD, her study takes particular interest in a new form of audio portraiture that interprets and represents the identity of wāhine Māori. Sheehan is a widely regarded singer-songwriter, having released multiple albums with an established music career that began in the 1990s. Her music also appears in iconic films and television series such as Once Were Warriors, Broken English, and Shortland Street. Over the course of her music career, Sheehan has dedicated her time to teaching and mentoring, Sheehan was honoured for her services to youth music with the MAI Whangai award in the year 2000.


Dr. Te Rita Bernadette Papesch

Ngāti Apakura, Waikato-Maniapoto,
Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whakaue

Te Rita Papesch is well known for her long involvement in kapa haka. With over forty years of experience, she is one of the leading experts on the artform. Te Rita was born in Pirongia, in Waikato, growing up with nine siblings, her parents, and grandfather. From a young age she was encouraged to pursue classical piano and vocal lessons.

Te Rita studied music and performed as a solo vocalist in various productions and competitions until she met Paraire Huata (the eldest son of Canon Wi Te Tau Huata). This liaison introduced her to serious kapa haka. When she eventually became a solo parent to their five children she began to focus on studying Māori music and continued kapa haka under the guidance of her family, John Te Rangianiwaniwa Rangihau, Sir Timoti Karetu, Professor Wharehuia Milroy, and Hirini Melbourne.

Kapa haka became her passion and she has frequently been asked to judge at Te Matatini Kapa Haka National competitions. In 1979 she became the first woman to receive the Kaitātaki Wahine title at the national kapa haka championships in Gisborne. Prior to this, she performed for Queen Elizabeth during the 1970 Royal Tour and was part of the inaugural Waikato University kapa haka group, which formed in 1978. Te Rita was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for services towards kapa haka at the Tainui Waka Kapa Haka Festival in 2018.

Alongside kapa haka and her whānau of seven children, numerous mokopuna and great mokopuna, education has been a huge part of Te Rita’s life. She graduated with her doctorate from Canterbury University in 2015, with a PhD titled “Creating a Modern Māori Identity Through Kapa Haka”. She currently lectures in the Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge degree at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa at Mangakōtukutuku campus in Hamilton.

Moana Maniapoto

Ngāti Tuwharetoa,
Tūhourangi, Ngāti Pikiao

Moana Maniapoto is a political activist who writes and produces contemporary Māori music that legitimises Māori language and culture and brings them into the mainstream. Moana was born in Invercargill where she lived for many years with her parents, Nepia and Bernadette, and her five younger siblings. As an adolescent she attended St Joseph’s Māori Girl’s College in Napier, where she became involved with kapa haka and choir. At Auckland University she met Syd Jackson and other Māori and Pākehā political activists, beginning a lifelong involvement in political and activist causes. It was also during these years that she met her former husband, Willie Jackson, who became her music manager. It was Jackson who introduced Moana to Dalvanius Prime, who wrote and produced one of her first songs, “Kua Makona”.

In 1993, Moana and the Moahunters released their debut album, Tahi. This landmark record was one of the first successful contemporary pop albums to fuse traditional Māori instrumentation with pop beats. Both Moana and the Moahunters and now the reformed Moana and the Tribe have had domestic and international success and toured globally. Her songs are filled with political, social and cultural commentary and she describes herself as kaupapa driven.

Moana was the recipient of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 and has been awarded numerous other accolades including the Arts Foundation Laureate award in 2007. In 2016, Maniapoto’s significant contribution to music and her impact on New Zealand’s culture was honoured by the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) when she was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Moana lives in Muriwai with her partner Toby Mills and her daughter Manawanui. She also has a son Hikurangi Kimiora Jackson to her former husband. She has recently directed the television series Treaty Negotiators with Toby (who also works in television and film as a producer). In 2019, Moana was asked to host her own show Te Ao with Moana for Māori Television. She remains an advocate and activist for Māori and Indigenous rights and continues to write and produce music.

Ramon Te Wake

Te Rarawa,
Ngāti Whatua

Ramon Te Wake is a Webfest (2018, 2019) nominated director and producer, a published writer, actor, presenter and singer/songwriter. She is a New Zealand whakawāhine (Māori transgender woman). She is one of the first transgender woman to present on television, direct, and produce content in Aotearoa.

Ramon was born in Dargaville to Ray and Tilly Te Wake. She grew up in Ascot Park, a suburb in Porirua. She moved to Wellington in the early 1990s and then to Auckland shortly afterwards. In her twenties, Ramon was dedicated to music—writing, performing and touring nationally and internationally. She released her debut EP, The Arrival in 2002.

In the ‘90s, Ramon was part of a hip hip trio called Pure Funk, appearing in music videos and breaking ground as the first transgender girls of Māori and Pacific Island descent to perform in a Coca-Cola commerical.

Ramon’s first presenting job was for Māori Television, where she fronted the show Takatāpui (close or intimate friend of the same sex) with Tania Simon and Taurewa Biddle. It was the first indigenous queer series in Australasia. Ramon’s storytelling was noted by Scoop Independent News as “strong, creative and visual”. In 2009, The Making of Ramon, a 30-minute documentary for the Takatāpui show directed by Maree Sheehan, looked at her life and achievements.

In 2011, Ramon directed a 25-minute video, Pacific Voices for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. This work considered issues affecting the Pacific LGBT community. 1n 2018, She was part of the exhibition Are We There Yet? at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, marking 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

Ramon has subsequently acted in Aroha, People Like Us, presented in, Neighbourhood, Tākiri:Unfurling for the New Zealand Maritime Museum and directed and produced numerous productions including Queens of Panguru and Attitude’s Crips in Cars. In 2020, Ramon will appear in New Zealand’s first trans drama, Rūrangi, as Ellie, and launch the anticipated graphic novella Ahō Wāhine for Kiwa Media, which she produced.


Audio Portraits
1. Dr. Te Rita Bernadette Papesch
2. Moana Maniapoto
3. Ramon Te Wake