Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is pleased to announce the appointment of Joe Pihema (Ngāti Whātua) to the senior leadership position of Poumatua (Head of Kaupapa Māori).

As Poumatua, Pihema will be responsible for progressing the Gallery’s commitment to supporting and promoting toi Māori, uplifting tikanga practices and māutauranga Māori, and enhancing engagement with Kaupapa Māori partners and communities.

Joe Pihema (Ngāti Whātua) is a tribal historian, Te Reo expert and senior tikanga advisor to Ngāti Whātua. He has over 25 years of experience in the arts, cultural and heritage sector, as well as Māori education and Māori broadcasting.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of Auckland Art Gallery, Kirsten Lacy says Joe is a natural fit for the role.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe Pihema to the Gallery’s leadership team. His extensive expertise and leadership in cultural advisory and experience within the arts and cultural sector will be instrumental in shaping the Gallery’s cultural direction and enhancing our engagement with Māori communities.

“Since the head of kaupapa Māori role was established in 2021, the Gallery has made strides on its bi-cultural journey. Highlights have included a greater adoption of te reo Māori, tikanga practices and understanding within the Gallery and an increase in cultural capability amongst staff.

“I’m looking forward to working with Joe to build on this positive momentum to ensure greater Māori outcomes,” adds Lacy.

Joe Pihema says he is pleased to be joining the team.

“The recent drive within the organisation to support and embed a greater depth of kaupapa Māori is exciting. My hope is to give greater focus and impact to that cultural uplift which in time becomes intuitive and natural within a spirit of manaaki.

“Ideally, we want to embrace a larger portion of the Māori community as part of our whānau. We’re already looking at a number of opportunities over the next 18-months including strengthening our relationship with Kura Kaupapa Māori and Wharekura, Māori artists, and tangata whenua,” says Pihema.

Joe’s previous positions include Deputy Director and Curator of Collections at Tairāwhiti Museum, member of Te Papa National Services Bicultural Committee, member of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Board and Tupuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority. In addition to this, he is a current member of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira; Taumata-ā-Iwi. 

Joe Pihema commenced his role as Poumatua at the Gallery in December 2023.

Joe Pihema appeared on the Gallery’s Cultured Conversations podcast here.

For more information, high-res images and interview requests contact:

Lesl van der Voorn 

Communications Advisor, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

+64 21 548 480 |

About Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, part of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, is the largest and most inspiring visual arts experience in New Zealand. Its collection and loan collections currently number over 18,000 artworks. They include major holdings of New Zealand historic, modern and contemporary art. Alongside outstanding works by Māori and Pacific artists, they represent significant international painting, sculpture and print collections.