New Zealand Pacific Studio was founded as 'New Pacific Studio' in 2001 by Dr Kay Flavell. Originally from Dunedin, Humanities Professor at Berkeley, University of California at Davis, Flavell is particularly concerned with Pacific projects for cross-fertilisation and mutual learning between Pacific Island, Asian-Pacific, and European-Pacific artists, writers, environmentalists and thinkers.
Her impetus was the belief that shared ecologies, rich indigenous cultures, and diverse multicultural communities not only provide many areas for comparative study, but also offer creative solutions to the various environmental and cultural questions that confront us on both a local and global scale. With this vision, she purchased and restored Normandell, and for more than 12 years, selected and supported creative practitioners of diverse types while also pursuing her own writing practice that has seen much of the local area's rich history recorded.
'The wealth of archival material and social history that Kay Flavell has compiled is truly impressive and a great treasure for the community as well as those who have family links to the place. Normandell has clearly touched many people and has benefited positively from the energy that has been put into its rehabilitation.' -- NZ Historic Places Trust, 2014.
In 2008, Wairarapa philanthropists Lynette Dewes and Ian Dewes joined the organisation, becoming co-owners and caretakers of the Normandell homestead, and joining the Board. Lynette has overseen the development of many administrative systems that remain the backbone of the residency programme.
Kay Flavell retired from the NZ residency in 2013, and currently directs our sister residency, New Pacific Studio in Vallejo, California, and in that year, curator, writer and arts manager Jodie Dalgleish began to work with the Board to help build a new sustainable model and complete a strategic plan and marketing plan: these have guided the growth of the centre. Jodie worked in a voluntary capacity for over a year.
In 2015, author and photographer Madeleine Slavick joined as Community Programme Manager (16 hrs/wk contract). She ran the residency, strengthened links with the community, and curated the 15th anniversary public programming, including an exhibition of 100 NZPS artists and writers. Her contract ended in February 2017.
In 2018, we were awarded the Trustpower Community Award for our 'outstanding contribution' to the community.
In October 2018, NZ Pacific Studio vacated the premises of Normandell. Under the leadership of Chair Jean McCombie and volunteer manager Jan Gerritsen, we developed a network of hosts across Wairarapa and Tararua where our resident artists are accommodated, forming a different layer of connectivity with the community. We also began a relationship with ConArt Gallery & Studios in Masterton: several of our artists-in-residence have created there during the day.
Closed for much of 2020-2022 due to the pandemic, NZPS re-opened in 2023, offering a selected number of supported residencies, such as the inaugural Te Ao o Te Pūkeko Residency.
For information on our sister residency in Vallejo, California - click here.