Creative connection

Gifted Sands exhibits local contemporary and traditional maori art in a unique cultural location, brings artists and art audiences together, encourages creativity, arts education and participation.

Nau Mai, Haere Mai.

The first Gifted Sands exhibition was held in December 2000 / January 2001. Many of the artists who were instrumental in establishing the exhibition continue their involvement. Exhibiting artists range from kuia who have a traditional harakeke background to emerging artists working in clay and cast glass. Others work in stone, pounamu, pingao, kiekie, watercolours, acrylics, number 8 wire and driftwood, pastels, photography, textiles, silver and paua shell, feathers and fibre.


The name “Gifted Sands” remembers a very significant event in our history. Ruawharo, principal tohunga of the sacred voyaging waka Takitimu, brought to Mahia some of the sands of Hawaiki, the fabled homeland of Mäori. He sprinkled these in the area we now know as Mahia Beach, hence the title Gifted Sands.

Nearby is Ika-whenua or Te Pakake-a-Ruawharo. This mauri called the whales, which would swim right up a channel until they were alongside the whale-shaped rock. On top of the rock was a spring known as Te Puna a Tinirau. The mauri is also within the area where Ruawharo scattered sand from Hawaiki.

Gifted Sands is a whakapapa based exhibition, held yearly at Mahia peninsula - our home whenua.

“As Maori we have a unique sense of our “landscape”
It includes past, present & future.
It includes both physical and spiritual dimensions.
It is how we express ourselves in our environment.
It connects whanau & whenua, flora & fauna,
Through whakapapa
It does not disconnect urban from rural
It transcends the boundaries of ‘land’scape into other ‘scapes’; rivers, lakes, ocean and sky.
It is enshrined in our whakapapa, pepeha, tauparapara, whaikorero, karakia, waiata, tikanga, nga korero a kui ma, a koroua ma and our mahi toi.
It is not just where we live – it is who we are!”
Te Aranga Cultural Landscapes Strategy, 2008