Off The Canvas – Tom Heeney


Dates: 12/12/20 - 28/02/21
Opening: 11/12/20 5:30 pm

This multi-media exhibition features Gisborne-born boxer Tom Heeney, who became New Zealand’s first global sporting hero and fought for the world heavyweight title in New York in 1928.

A journey through Tom Heeney’s life is a journey through Gisborne at the turn of the twentieth century, into the Roaring Twenties in New York, through two world wars, the Great Depression and onto Miami and fishing with Ernest Hemingway.

The appeal of this exhibition goes far beyond sport. Boxing is an integral part of social history, from Gisborne to New York. The golden age of boxing coincided with a golden age of writing and the advent of the celebrity – and Heeney was in the middle of it all.

This exhibition has been created by Lydia Monin, who has previously written a biography and directed a documentary film about Heeney’s life. It builds on Tairāwhiti Museum’s existing Heeney collection, which includes a korowai, to include a slew of previously unseen archive from both her own research files and from Tom Heeney’s personal collection, which is now finally ‘coming home’ from Miami.

This exhibition has been supported by a Creative Communities Scheme grant.