Art & Legacy at Onslow
The Art collection at Onslow tells an extraordinary story about legacy, protection, and connection for chef Josh Emett and his British born wife Helen.
Onslow’s vision marries Josh’s New World provenance with Helen’s Old World, British heritage. Inspirations befitting 9 Princes Street, an address steeped in history, once being the location of the Grand Hotel, opened by William Hillier Onslow, the Earl of Onslow, in 1889. When it came to naming the restaurant Josh and Helen were drawn to the extraordinary connections to the name Onslow, for Helen was born in Surrey, not far from the Onslow family seat, and also because her parents began their courtship at Onslow Gardens in South Kensington, London.
Mark Adams photographic triptych of Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito - a visual focal point of the restaurant - features one of New Zealand’s most important offshore taonga that was commissioned in 1881 by the Tūhourangi iwi and stood near the famed Pink and White Terraces. After the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886 the Whare was acquired by Earl of Onslow who, in 1892, shipped it to Clandon House, his family seat in Surrey where it has remained 128 years.
Hinemihi was created by master carver Tene Waitere (1853–1931). In the 1886 eruption Hinemihi saved over 100 lives, including Waitere and his family. 9 Princes Street shares an extraordinary connection to Waitere, as his intricate carvings also graced the grand hotel in the form of a 3 meter fireplace surround.
Hinemihi, surviving the eruption, has gone on to survive 2 world wars, and more recently, a devastating fire in 2015 that burnt Clandon House to the ground. Her survival to tell an extraordinary tale of protection, survival, connection and ultimately, of homecoming. Mark Adam’s photographs honour the legacy of Tene Waitere and return that legacy back to Onslow’s location. There are current discussions and plans between the UK and NZ governments for Hinemihi to return to New Zealand, with a tentative date set to 2025. While she is still in the UK, the Emett’s hope that the photograph represents a symbolic homecoming of Waitere’s magnificent legacy to 9 Prince’s Street.
Onslow also features works by Waiheke Island sculptor Anton Forde, a friend of the Emetts. Forde was commissioned to create three works: a large vertical huia feather inside the restaurant, and two benches on the outdoor terrace.
Anton is from Taranaki/Ngati Ruanui whakapapa. He began carving when he was aged 18 and studied art under such influential sculptors as Paul Dibble, Gary Whiting and Paul Hansen. He gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Māori Visual Arts with Distinction, and also achieved a Masters of Māori Visual Arts with First Class Honours. He studied Tene’s work and is incredibly proud to represent Tene’s legacy through the commissioned pieces with references to his work.