Renowned artist gets own studio in Glen Innes

January 27, 2022

Renowned artist gets own studio in Glen Innes Renowned artist gets own studio in Glen Innes

Celebrated artist Emily Karaka’s roots lie deep in Tāmaki. Her whānau home once stood on the site of the Tongan Church in Maybury Street, Glen Innes, and she has whakapapa ties to Ngāpuhi and Waikato/Tainui.

Now Emily has a permanent working base in Glen Innes with her own dedicated artist’s studio above a creative hub space in Line Road. She said: “I have been joking that I’ve got the LA studio in GI.”

Turning 70 next month, Emily feels like she has the keys to her own kingdom after 40 years as an artist, working mostly out of sheds and spare rooms, making works for collectors, art galleries and museums in New Zealand and overseas. “I had outgrown my shed in the garden across the road,” she said. “I really needed a better, more secure space to work from.”

Tāmaki Regeneration Company (TRC) is helping support Emily and the wealth of artistic talent in Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure, by creating a studio for her above a former $2 shop and setting up an innovation hub below where makers and creatives can have a hui over coffee and kai.

Emily, who has exhibited at the Sydney Biennale (2020) and the Toi Tū Toi Ora exhibition of Māori Contemporary Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2020-2021), will hold an annual exhibition with Tangata Whenua at The Good The Bad Gallery in Glen Innes. Her work can be seen at

Emily credits being awarded the art prize as a student at Tāmaki Intermediate School as the stepping stone to becoming a professional artist. She now supports and encourages other creatives. She said: “I want to give someone else a chance, so I will paint one piece and give them the other gallery wall space to showcase their talent. It doesn’t have to only be emerging young artists; a lot of people take up painting at the end of their lives and do some brilliant work."

Her paintings tell the story of Tāmaki Makaurau and her political activism. Emily said the studio, which she will lease for four years will free her up to explore other subject matters. “I have been involved in politics all my life and painted about it. Maybe now I'll paint self-portraits, or flowers and romance, or paint the Ngāhere and Tai Ao, our natural environment."

“I am at a mature stage of my career, and I need to paint what I want to paint. Some of the best artists have painted their best paintings, later in life, where I’m at now; the world’s my oyster.” But first, Emily plans to paint Mt Maungarei o Pōtaka – the watchful mountain of Pōtaka (Mt Wellington) to celebrate the history of local iwi Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki.

Joanna Brain, TRC’s General Manager Strategy and Masterplanning, said “Tāmaki has so much artistic talent, we wanted to support those communities by giving them a base to explore their ideas and be creative. This will help the re-energising of the Glen Innes town centre by building on existing links to Te Oro Arts Centre, The Good The Bad Gallery and the Bradley Lane Street Art programme."

Read Māori TV’s story here: