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80 Hector Sanderson Rd, Claris,
Great Barrier Island

Aotea Community Art Gallery


Mon-Sat:  10am to 4pm
Sunday: 11am to 5pm

Closed Wednesday
Enjoy the diverse range of local Art & Crafts

Gallery Phone: (09)4290-580 
Office Phone: (09) 4290-570

2019 Exhibitions  :   Summer Newsletter - coming


www.facebook.com/GBIARTGALLERY    :    Great Barrier Island Artists

Great Barrier Island Heritage & Arts Village

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.

Two old 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 site.

In December 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.

Throughout 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.

In February 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 Claris Airport.

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.

Throughout 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 performances.

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.

The Gallery 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 2004.