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An Exciting New Era for Artists – Toi Auaha

Arts Access, Fashion and Design, Literature, Ngā Toi Māori, Visual Arts


A new era of artists in the city is about to begin!

17 local artists who applied for studio space at Toi Auaha are about to move into their new spaces, ahead of the official opening on 9 December.

12 studio spaces were on offer to the local arts community and they have been filled by a variety of arts practitioners ranging from jewellers to writers to digital artists.

Toi Ōtautahi principal arts advisor, Kiri Jarden, says Toi Auaha is an exciting new development for the arts in the city.

“The last decade has been particularly challenging for artists here in Ōtautahi after a lot of inner city space was lost following the earthquakes,” she says. “We have responded to this need by securing Toi Auaha (formerly Rolleston House) and we hope it will become a place, not just of individual creativity, but of meaningful collaboration.”

Toi Auaha is situated in the city’s artistic heart and the former YHA site has been transformed into a space that can house working artists in a variety of disciplines.

The house has 3 larger studios which will be home to range of creatives including photographers, painters and writers. 9 smaller studio spaces will house weavers, jewellers, musicians, fashion designers and printmakers.

Toi Auaha will also have a dedicated space for ringatoi Māori.

“We’re really pleased to be able to offer a space for Māori artists and for the development of Māori art forms,” says Ms. Jarden. “We’re excited to see the creative wairua that will come of it for both the residents and the public to enjoy and participate in.”

Juanita Hepi, who will be an artist in residence, says it’s an opportunity to provide support to Māori artists.

“Toi Auaha is a great stepping stone towards the objective of creating a thriving Māori arts sector in Ōtautahi,” she says. “For me, it’s about being accessible, and being able to help drive initiatives in a sustainable way.”

The space also has the ability to host workshops, exhibitions and performances and Ms Jarden hopes it will be well utilised by the local arts community.

“Being able to activate this space was really important to us,” she explains. “We want creativity to flourish  – and we want people to be able to participate in that, whether it be through attending a workshop, or an exhibition. The house will have times when it is open for visitors, but mainly it will be a space where the resident artists can create without barriers and in an environment that is supportive, diverse and encouraging.”

Jay Campugan, Hōhua Kurene and Ruby Avia O’Connor are a collective of artists who are looking forward to basing themselves in Toi Auaha.

Having a dedicated space where they can work together is something the trio have been looking at for some time.

“Being in a space like this just triggers creativity in you,” says Jay. “You start seeing ourselves in that space and seeing what’s possible. We love cross pollination – we come from different backgrounds. We know the value of diversity and the value of having different viewpoints and different people in the same space.”

That diversity is one of the pillars of the Toi Ōtautahi Arts Strategy which is helping enable creativity to flourish throughout the city.

“The whakatauākī of the Toi Ōtautahi Arts Strategy is ‘with imagination and creativity a hidden jewel can be revealed’, says Ms. Jarden. “We hope that Toi Auaha will prove itself to be one of the jewels in our creative crown here in Christchurch.”

Toi Auaha is made possible through the help and support of our strategy partners, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Rātā Foundation and Creative NZ.

Toi Auaha will be officially opened by Mayor Phil Mauger and representatives from partner agencies and mana whenua on 9 De


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