Michael Parekōwhai

The Past in the Present

The Past in the Present by Michael Parekōwhai

Artwork Detail

Unique to this work is Parekowhai’s representation of Matariki, the star constellation which signals the Maori New Year. In the full installation he sets up what appears to be a games room made of bronze – polished and unpolished – situated on a square section of intricate Axminster carpet. On closer inspection the carpet reveals something like a night sky below a floral rococo-inspired field of blue and gold. Therefore with the night firmament on the ground, Parekowhai situates two versions of the night sky – the southern hemisphere’s Pleiades (seen during Matariki) physically replicated in golf balls over the carpet, and a mirroring constellation on the wall in coffee cup lids. Through the titling of this work, Parekowhai adapts a concept of time well known to many pacific peoples, and in Maori “ka mura, ka muri” or “walking backwards into the future”.Rather than dealing with individual sculptural forms The Past in the Present is one of Parekowhai’s most comprehensive installation pieces in recent times. In addition, it incorporates perhaps the most overt references to Maori cultural values, albeit situated in a common urban setting as familiar as the RSA pub or a 1970s games room. The wondrous potential of the night sky, and the specific cultural value of an indigenous new year are converted into the quotidian of Parekowhai’s youth, then returned again in something rare and spectacular, through mirrored bronze surfaces and the spectacular illusions of the casting process.

The Past in the Present
Michael Parekōwhai
Production date
bronze parts, paint, carpet, golf balls
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of the Auckland Art Gallery, 2015
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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