Arts & Culture

The Nelson Tasman region is steeped in Maori history and a pivotal place for European occupation in New Zealand. The region is the undisputed creative arts centre of New Zealand. The home of New Zealand's three oldest cultural centres - Nelson School of Music, Theatre Royal and the Suter Gallery - this is where the World of WearableArt (WOW) event was born and the internationally acclaimed Hoglund Art Glass studio has been in operation for thirty years.

The Nelson Tasman region is home to a host of unique cultural experiences. European occupation goes back to the 14th century. There are eight indigenous iwi of Te Tau Ihu (across the Top of the South island covering the Nelson Tasman & Marlborough region): Ngati Apa ki te Ra To, Rangitane, Ngati Tama, Te Atiawa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Kuia, Ngati Toa and Ngati Rarua.

The region takes pride in its early Maori history and the European birthplace of the nation was first recorded at Golden Bay in 1642. The Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman attempted to land but weighed anchor and sailed off after an unexpected altercation with local Maori resulted in four of his crew being killed.

The region is named after the Dutch Explorer, Abel Tasman and the English, Lord Horatio Nelson, Admiral of the Fleet of the successful Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of England between 1822-1824, against Napolean Bonaparte. It was many years later in the early 1840s when the first formal European settlement (English and German settlement) took place. 

As well as the Suter Gallery, dating back to 1899, the region has over 300 working artists. Painters, sculptors, ceramic artists, potters, glass blowers, jewellers, writers and creators draw energy from the spectacular natural environment and create art and crafts that have a unique and personal signature attached to them. For an insight into the artistic culture of the region visit the Suter Gallery, Nelson Provincial Museum, the WoW museum and classic car collection, Founders Heritage Park, South Street, Melrose House, Broadgreen House, Isel House and the many smaller galleries and museums across the region.