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Waikato te Awa Ariki

Waikato te Awa Ariki

Sorry this event has been and gone


  • Mon 21 Jan ’13, 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Tue 22 Jan ’13, 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Wed 23 Jan ’13, 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Thu 24 Jan ’13, 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • Fri 25 Jan ’13, 9:30am – 4:30pm
  • View all sessions


Franklin Arts Centre, 12 Massey Ave, Pukekohe


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha - Waikato of a hundred dragons, at every bend stands a chief.

The Waikato River is famed as the longest river in New Zealand, and shadows everyday life of the people of Franklin. This river is the focus of one of Franklin’s own, Fred Graham, who hosts an exciting exhibition of his acclaimed work, aimed at drawing the public in for an artistic collection of richness visually and educationally, steeped in the whakapapa and history of this local treasure.

Born in Arapuni on the river like his father before him, Fred Graham is Ngaati Koroki, Kahukura and Raukawa and spent some of these growing up years beside the Waikato River, in Horahora. His father worked with the development of the first power station on the Waikato River and this connection to the river stayed with Fred. Many years later he returned and for the last two decades has resided in Franklin - a short drive to this very river. Fred’s arrival back to the river meant a shift to the rural acres of Franklin - a natural progression as living in the city compromised working hours with so many close neighbours. This connection to the Waikato River shows itself in Fred’s latest exhibition at the Franklin Art Centre - Waikato te Awa Ariki.

Fred says, “People talk about all these rivers from around the world like the Danube etc but never about something close to home. It isn’t until you have been around that you realise just how important your own river is.”

Fred rates as one of New Zealand’s finest artists and is an important figure in Maori art. His paintings and sculptural work are acclaimed and can be found in places such as the Auckland High Court Building and National Archives Building in Wellington. The exhibition at the Franklin Art Centre not only gives the local community an opportunity to view his exciting work, but take a journey down the Waikato River and learn from each bend and twist.

From November 25 through to the end of January 2013, the New Zealand Steel Gallery at the Franklin Art Centre will act as meeting houses did many years ago and present an exhibition created specifically for this occasion. Waikato te Awa Ariki takes the viewer on a journey down the river with 14 large scale pieces. The journey physically starts at the source of the river - Ruapehu and travels down the river through Cambridge, Hamtilon, Ngaruawahia, Taupiri, Rangiriri, until it reaches Pukekohe and surrounds. Each individual piece represents the significance of the area through its history and looks at the relevance of the location to the pathway of the river from a Maori perspective.

Franklin Art Centre Manager, Suzette Van Dorsser, is a long standing fan of Fred’s work. She says “Franklin Arts Centre has long held the ambition to host an exhibition by Fred Graham. He has always been a regular visitor and has supported this gallery since it opened. We have become good friends with him over the years and have patiently waited for the right opportunity to host an exhibition. It's finally happening this year, so you can imagine how unbelievably excited we are.”

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