Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker

Serious fun

Who the heck is PĀNiA!?

Ka tīaho mai he marama pai,
puta pō rere wai, mai a Pānia.

When the night is still and the moon is clear,
you can see Pānia appear.

—Sam Freedman (nā Alby Bennett i whakamāori)

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room, or—given the artist’s enthusiasm for all things equine—the thoroughbred in the room: who the heck is PĀNiA!? In the literature put out by Mokopōpaki, the art space on Karangahape Road with which she is associated, she has been referred to repeatedly as an “enigmatic but always interesting über-cool-girl, artist-about-town.” PĀNiA! is so cool, in fact, that we don’t know who she really is. When she pounds the pavement, it is without paparazzi. Her chosen anonymity has led to some daring guesswork. In a recent review of her current exhibition-cum-performance project at Te Tuhi in Pakuranga,The True Artist Helps the World by Asking for Trust, critic John Hurrell ventures that she is “of Māori and Dutch extraction”, presumably basing this on the content of a number of the works on show, since the idea has not been put forward anywhere else. …


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Francis McWhannell Writer and exhibition-maker


Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and exhibition-maker based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is Curatorial Adviser for the dealer gallery Visions, and Curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.