Kōwhaiwhai is the Māori painting tradition adorning the paddles of early voyaging waka (canoes) and the rafters of wharenui (meeting houses). Consisting of the design motif known as the koru – the young unfurling shoot of the fern plant – kōwhaiwhai has developed into a sophisticated visual language unique to Māori culture and to Aotearoa New Zealand. Coded and abstracted forms referencing the natural world are represented in patterns that convey tribal narratives, cultural truths and enduring practices reflecting a Māori worldview.

Contemporary Māori artists have revitalised this customary artform through interpretation and innovation. They cleverly extend upon the language of kōwhaiwhai to convey a sense of rhythm and flow. This artform has inspired both Māori and non-Māori artists and has stimulated debate over collective identity and ownership.

 

He tikanga tawhito te kōwhaiwhai i takea mai ai i ngā rākeitanga o ngā hoe o ngā waka o mua, o ngā heke o ngā wharenui hoki. Kei te pūtake o te hoahoa ko te koru – te tētēkura o te aruhe – kua panoni te kōwhaiwhai kia tū ai hei reo ataata punenga e whakamahi ai i te wāhi tōrunga, i te wāhi tōraro me ngā tikanga o te tauira auau, hangarite me te whakaata kia hīanga te hanga i te reo ataata e ahurei ai ki te ahurea Māori o Aotearoa. Kei konei e whakaaturia ai ngā auaha kua whakawaeheretia, kua whakatūrehurehutia e tohotoro ai i te ao tūroa, ki roto i ngā tauira e kawe nei i ngā kōrero ā-iwi, i ngā tikanga ahurea, i ngā mahi toitū e whakaata ai i te tirohanga Māori.

Nā te whakamāramatanga hou me te whakahoutanga tonu o ngā ringa toi Māori o nāianei, kua whakarauorahia ai tēnei momo toi tawhito. Nā te atamai o ēnei ringa toi kua whātorohia te reo o te kōwhaiwhai ki te kawe i te whakataki me te teretere. Kua hihiko te ringa toi Māori, te ringa toi ehara i te Māori hoki, ā, koia te kaupapa o ngā kōrerorero e pā ana ki te tuakiri me te mana o te tini. Ko te peita kōwhaiwhai he toi ātaahua, he toi whakapōrauraha e tuku ai te tangata ki te whai i te kōrerorero ataata mutunga kore.

 

Artworks | Mahi toi

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On display

Puhoro Meets the Stripes III
Puhoro Meets the Stripes III

Kura Te Waru Rewiri

On display

Production date
2011
Medium
acrylic on canvas
Size (h x w)
910 x 1200 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2012
Accession no
2012/4/3
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On display

Tane Mahuta - Manos Nathan Legacy
Tane Mahuta - Manos Nathan Legacy

Ngatai Taepa

On display

Production date
2015
Medium
various timbers
Size (h x w)
1686 x 892 x 65 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2016
Accession no
2016/5
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On display

Milk and Honey
Milk and Honey

Lonnie Hutchinson

On display

Production date
2012
Medium
builders paper, metal pins
Size (h x w)
3000 x 3000 mm
Credit line
Chartwell Collection, commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2012
Accession no
C2012/1/33.1-3
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He Hue/Gourds: Kua tu te puehu
He Hue/Gourds: Kua tu te puehu

Reuben Paterson

On display

Production date
2020
Medium
sequins, nickel pins and gourds
Credit line
Reuben Paterson, care of Gow Langsford Gallery
Accession no
X2020/33/2.1-10
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On display

The Kaiahuwhenua and his Three Sons
The Kaiahuwhenua and his Three Sons

Reuben Paterson

On display

Production date
2001
Medium
glitter dust on canvas
Size (h x w)
1720 x 1720 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2001
Accession no
2001/36