From 2001 to the present day...
In May 2001 a
group of seven artists, led by sculptor Bob Lawson, decided to establish an
Art Group on Great Barrier Island. In October 2001 the Group registered the
Aotea Community Artz Charitable Trust. At first, the Trust had no home, no
exhibition space. The Artists took their work to Waiheke Island Gallery in
2002 and 2004. Texas Cafe, the Currach Irish Pub and the Tryphena Hall were
local venues for shows.
buildings, the Mabey House built in 1908, and the Gray Cottage built in
1922, were gifted to Bob Lawson and his partner Di Hayes by their owners
Helen Mabey and Allan Mitchell. They were relocated to land on Gray Road
owned by and generously provided by Alan and Sue Gray.
In 2004, the Tryphena School Master's House, built in 1897 and later
relocated to Claris and used for various purposes including as club rooms
for GBI Sports & Social Club, was about to be demolished, and Bob and Di
took ownership of the building which joined the other two on the Gray Road
2004, following a huge amount of voluntary work from artists and other
members of the community, the School Master's House was opened by Auckland
City Councillor Toni Millar as the Aotea Gallery.
the next five years, the Gallery was run by a Manager and volunteers, each
year being more successful than the last. An important aspect of the Trust
has centered around workshops for both adults and children in painting,
pottery and ceramics, photography and various crafts, and each year during
the Winter Arts Festival the Matariki Maori New Year has been celebrated,
involving all three local schools.
2009, the Trust decided to change the name to Great Barrier Island Community
Heritage and Arts Village Trust. The Aims of the Trust have always included
the objective to save and preserve the Island's Heritage, and to progress
further, the Trust believed it was necessary to request assistance from the
Great Barrier Community Board and Auckland City Council. The Board and
Council gave a positive response, and funding was allocated to remove the
three buildings from privately owned land to Council property near the
The land was
cleared and prepared in October 2009, and the buildings were moved in
November. By that time, the Trust had taken ownership of the buildings in an
agreement with Bob Lawson and Di Hayes. The small building was built in 2008
by Bob as a storage shed, using his leadlight windows which he had created
for a film set.
A huge number
of locals gave voluntary time, skills and the use of machinery to make it
happen. Exactly five years since the opening of the Gallery in Gray Road,
Councillor Toni Millar was present to open the Village and the Gallery at
the new site in Hector Sanderson Road, Claris.
2010 and 2011, restoration work continued on the Mabey House building, and
in July 2011 the Mabey Gallery was opened with a wonderful exhibition of art
and craft. The former Gallery, considered too small to contain all the work
being contributed, became the Workshop Room, and space for meetings and
The lawns and
gardens have been established and cared for by volunteers, and a Community
Sculpture of a native eel has pride of place near the front entrance.
continues to thrive, run by volunteers under the guidance of a Gallery
Manager and the nine Trustees. Turnover has doubled, as have visitor
numbers. Tourists as well as locals are impressed with the quality of the
work exhibited for sale, and as each year passes, the Village becomes even
more a 'must see' destination.
The Mabey Homestead:
Helen Mabey donated this building which was associated with "Wairapara",
shipwrecked on the coast at Miners Head in 1894.
The Gray Family House:
Donated by Alan and June Mitchell this building was partially built by
wreckage from the SS Wiltshire which went down on the south-east coast of
Great Barrier Island in 1922.
The School Master's House:
This building originated in Tryphena in 1897 and was moved in the mid 1900s
to a farm paddock in Whangaparapara Road where it was used as a dwelling for
the farmer. Later it became the local doctor's house and surgery and
then the Club House for the Claris Sports and Social Club who donated it in