It's home to a historical pa site and the famous Rangiriri Tavern but Te Ahorangi Totorewa hopes to see his new maori contemporary art gallery become a destination too.

The Huntly 22 year old opened the Tupu te Toi Gallery recently with his father, Brad Totorewa, a Ngati Naho leader in the Waikato area. Brad's connections date back to his schooling while Te Ahorangi's great grandfather Simmonds (Te Hiwa) Whiunui migrated from Parihaka to the town in 1907 at the age of four.


Te Ahorangi completed his Te Toi o ngaa Rangi at the Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Arts and Design last year. Not long afterwards, he and his father were quick to get the venture off the ground.


"My dad came up with the idea because Rangiriri is going to be restored to its natural way." Te Ahorangi said.


Rangiriri has undergone some significant environmental transformations that include the Waikato Expressway and the Rangiriri Battle site.


About 20,000 cubic metres of soil from the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expresway project will be used to fill int he former SH1 cutting and reconnect the cleaved pa site in a $750,000 restoration plan. They also thought about what could attract visitors to the small northern Waikato village.


"That's the goal, to get this town out there." What's unique about the gallery is its connection to the area and its history thorugh Maori contemporary art, he said.


"At the moment our first exhibition is about the wars, me and my colleague are going to smash out the work." The exhibition  will be open in May 2017, he said, which is when the Rangiriri Pa site developments are due to be unveiled.


Currently features in the gallery are artists from throughout the country who he's connected with throug his studies.


The gallery is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 2pm.

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