Resistance - Ans Westra


Queens Wharf Fence • 1 June - 30 July

24 hrs / 7 days
89 Quay St
Ans Westra

Auckland Festival of Photography is delighted to present a tribute resistance [ātete] exhibition to the late great New Zealand artist, Ans Westra. 

Ans Westra CNZM (1936 – 2023) was a pioneer of documentary photography and one of the first women to work in this area in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Born in Leiden, the Netherlands, Ans immigrated to New Zealand in 1957 at the age of 21, eventually basing herself in Wellington as a full time freelance photographer. Self-taught, Ans was an expert at capturing what she called "ordinary life": the immediate and unselfconscious interactions of ordinary people and places.

For over 60 years Ans was a fixture up and down the country at community events, hui, dances, hikoi, woolsheds and streets;  a tall, unassuming woman, quietly taking photographs, looking down through the viewfinder of her trusty Rolleiflex, and more recently digital devices.  She also photographed around the world including Tonga, Fiji, the Netherlands, the Philippines and New York.

Ans' documentation of New Zealand life and culture encompassed seismic shifts in our socio-political landscape during the latter half of the twentieth century, and the resistance they spurred. The images selected for this exhibition include scenes of protest during the 1981 Springbok Tour, the 1982 Māori Land Protest at Waitangi, trade union as well as Pro-Abortion marches held throughout the 1970s. 

In 2012 Ans established Suite Tirohanga with {Suite} Director David Alsop to act as manager of her print archive and copyright. In 2015 she gifted all of her negatives to the Alexander Turnbull Library, and a project between Suite Tirohanga and the National Library of New Zealand commenced to digitise her archive - an unparalleled collection comprising more than 300,000 images.

Ans’ photos are catalogued by location and date with additional information about events, activities and people in the images noted where known. Unlimited online access to her archive is available via the National Library website. 

Since her passing Ans has been remembered widely, including international coverage in The New York TimesGuardian and Volkskrant.  She is survived by her half-sister, three children and six grandchildren. 

Thanks to the Lion Foundation and Eke Panuku Development, CCO Auckland Council.

Protest 1975

Ans Westra, Protest 1975

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