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Ans Westra Photographs:
after Handboek

Modern Aotearoa in the Making: 

A Photographic Record Spanning Almost 50 Years

She witnessed a great many defining social events, over many decades. An unobtrusive woman, staring intently into a vintage Rolleiflex camera at chest height – documenting life as it unfolded in front of her.

Ans Westra captured the nation’s cultural and generational changes on film, like no other. 

Some 80 of her finest works will be on display in an art exhibition that opens on Saturday 23 April, in the Māpuna - Kabinet art gallery in Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Foxton. The show is based on the 2004 retrospective exhibition and significant publication ‘Handboek’, organised by BWX.

Street level culture, change and tensions – Through the lens of Ans Westra

Handboek provides an in-depth insight into the photographic journey of one of our country’s most persistent documenters,” says Luit Bieringa, curator and coordinator of the BWX Handboek project.

“To see part of that collection of works come to life again, for yet another generation of admirers – in an art gallery with both a Dutch and Māori name – is a fitting tribute to Ans’ work. Several of her ‘photo-stories’ addressed race relations, at a time when that discussion and public reactions were much more fraught than today. It is good to see how far we’ve moved forwards, as a nation.” 

The ‘Ans Westra Photographs: after Handboek’ exhibition features photos ranging from extra-ordinary street scenes to moving marae gatherings, and 1960s rock ‘n rollers to 1990s hikoi protesters. It also includes several books featuring Ans’ images, press clippings and the documentary Private Journeys, produced by Jan and Luit Bieringa in 2006.

A fitting tribute

Dutch Ambassador, Mira Woldberg and the Hon Marja Lubeck will open the ‘Ans Westra Photographs: after Handboek’ exhibition on Saturday 23 April, at the ‘Big Dutch Day Out’ - as part of the official launch of Dutch Week.

“Ans has been a dedicated supporter of our Oranjehof museum initiative from day one,” says Arjan van der Boon, Co-chair of the Dutch Connection Centre museum trust. 

“We are proud to feature eight of her works permanently in our exhibition. Putting 80 more on display in the gallery, means we can finally say ‘thank you’ to Ans for all her support.

“We want to offer Ans public recognition for her magnificent contribution to documenting a nation in transition. To do that in Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, will be a fitting tribute,” says Arjan. “After all, we are a multi-cultural facility that was established through a partnership between mana whenua, Dutch immigrants, and mainstream pākeha represented through Horowhenua District Council.”  

History in the making

“Dutch Week aims to enhance the visibility of local Dutch communities and businesses, and the contributions they make to a diverse New Zealand”, says Arjan. “Having Ans showing us her view of our nation at the same time, through the unique lens of an immigrant witnessing history in the making, will make that occasion extra special.”

Born 1936 in Leiden, the Netherlands, Ans immigrated to New Zealand in 1957. She began her career in 1962 as a fulltime freelance photographer, working mainly for the Department of Education and Te Ao Hou, a magazine published by the Department of Māori Affairs.

Washday at the Pa

A defining moment in her career was the publication of Washday at the Pa, a school journal made for eight-year-olds, which followed a day in the life of a rural Maori family awaiting relocation to a state house in the city. It was controversially withdrawn from circulation by the Department of Education, following protests by the Maori Women’s Welfare League.

Ans has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout her career, including the prestigious Commonwealth Photography Award in 1986, as the Pacific regional winner.

She was awarded the Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit (CNZM) for services to photography in 1998. And Ans received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2007, and an Honorary Doctorate from Massey University, Wellington, in 2015. She lives and works in Wellington.

Ans’ print archive and copyright is managed by David Alsop, director of {Suite} Gallery and co-ordinator of this exhibition at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.  {Suite} has gallery locations in Wellington and Auckland – prints from the exhibition are for sale.

Suite Gallery
{Suite} acts as agent for Ans Westra.            /   04 976 7663
Auckland                                                                   Wellington
189 Ponsonby Road, Auckland 1011                      241 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Māpuna – Kabinet Art Gallery
Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom
92 Main Street, Foxton


2021 Exhibitions Archive

NOTE: These exhibitions are now closed


A Colourful Nation - Kleur Bekennen

Leon van den Eijkel: A Retrospective

Leon van den Eijkel burst on to the New Zealand art scene in the mid-1990s, with several major exhibitions.

Works that have not been seen by the public since then are on loan from Te Papa, to cover his artistic journey from his formative years to today.

Kleur Bekennen - a retrospective of Leon's works in the Māpuna Kabinet art gallery in Foxton, is curated by the Oranjehof Dutch Connection Centre. ‘A Colourful Nation’ tells the story of a journey of transformation – beginning in 1986 when Leon first arrived in Aotearoa. 

  • Māpuna Kabinet art gallery, in Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom
  • 92 Main Street Foxton
  • Free entry: weekdays 9-5 / weekends 10-4 

A Netherlands - New Zealand Collaboration in Print

Distant Kinship - Verre Verwanten

This eye-opening exhibition lets Dutch printers explore Aotearoa, and New Zealand printers make sense of the Netherlands. The result shows a different way of looking at two countries in entirely different hemispheres.

Distant Kinship - Verre Verwanten is an exchange between a collective of nine Dutch printmakers (Grafiekgroep Bergen - GGB) and nine printmakers belonging to the Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

The exhibition acknowledges this distant connection and celebrates the strength of the printmaking traditions of both countries.

  • 1 Grantham Street, South end Victoria Street, Hamilton

  • Free entry:  Open daily 10-5

Van Gogh Alive

An ‘unforgettable’ multi-sensory experience

See Van Gogh's masterpieces come to life through a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance.

You will get the sensation of walking right into his paintings, a feeling that is simultaneously enchanting, entertaining and educational.

Adults and children delight in the super-scale show, viewing artworks from new angles and discovering unique perspectives. Indulge in the senses, as waves of sights and sounds, intense and beautiful, wash over you. 

75 Jaar Vrijheid - 75 Years of Freedom

Remembering Liberation, the Sacrifices it Took

Due to the 2020 Covid epidemic, the planned exhibition on the liberation of the Netherlands - 75 years earlier - had to be cancelled.

To observe this significant WW II anniversary, and to remember the sacrifices that were made to ensure the freedom of the Dutch, Hamilton is now showing 75 + 1.

Many New Zealand soldiers joined the British army and gave their life for our freedom; remembering them is the least we can do. We will forever be in debt to all the allied forces who were involved in the liberation of the Netherlands, which started in September 1944 and concluded in May 1945.

  • 75 years Freedom
  • Netherville Hall, Admimiral Crescent, Hamilton
  • 27th April—2nd of May 2021 / 10 to 4
  • Gold coin donation
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