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Retired Akaroa farmer Steve Helps holds his first solo exhibition, Shadows on the Land, in a series of works on paper, their subjects based on the Akaroa Basin, its valleys, outcrops and sky line.

It is a location and environment that he has known throughout his life, as a child and later farming at Akaroa and Flea Bay.  Helps describes his paintings as abstracted land forms, ‘an expression of past and present, of European and Māori history, place names and legends.’

Certainly, it is difficult to separate the subjects of paintings from his immediate experience of the land, documenting and remembering his relationship and differing perceptions about its history.  Shadows on the Land sees him commenting on his life in the region: O-te-Patatu and Te Piki Te Ake was painted in the spring of 2020 and it was ‘inspired by the explosion of yellow on the hills as the gorse flowered.’                 

‘The land near the Hinewai saddle known as O-te-Patatu comprises Stony Bay Peak, (Tara-te-rehu “the peak of the bottle nosed dolphin”), Purple Peak and Te Piki Te Ake.  This area was an historic habitat of the Titi or Mutton Bird, which by legend was hunted by Patupaiarehe…  causing the birds extinction.  Composed by a Ngāi Tahu or Ngāti Mamoe woman, there is a waiata a plea to the Titi to return to O-te- Patatu.’

In acknowledging the history of the region, Helps further notes the return of the original name of Oteauheke (Misty Peak) ‘renamed “Brasenose” by Reverend William Aylmer (1802 – 1883) or his son Henry after Brasenose College, Oxford.  Today the name is once again Oteauheke.’



Steve Helps Shadows on the Land

Orion Powerhouse Gallery Akaroa

27 September – 19 November


  1. Steve Helps, Old burial ground and Tapu Peak, Oteauheke, oil on board


Steve Helps- Shadows on the Land

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