Te Hei Tiki


exhibition Details

Hei tiki are treasured taonga and adornment items. Commonly called tiki, these objects are properly referred to as hei tiki: hei meaning to wear around the neck. Through time hei tiki have become an icon that is unique to Aotearoa New Zealand.

The exhibition Te Hei Tiki considers how over many generations hei tiki have captured moments and movements in Māori and New Zealand histories. Through hei tiki artists have related stories that are about taonga, relationships between people, place, art, collecting, peace, war, consumerism and cultural politics.

Te Hei Tiki will retell stories from oral and documented histories explaining how hei tiki were made and for whom. Hei tiki are highly valued taonga, not only for their materiality, but also for the connections they make across generations and the tribal histories they continue to evoke.

From the time of early encounters with explorers hei tiki have been of interest to Europeans; Captain Cook's artists depicted them and they quickly became sought after by explorers and collectors. Subsequent generations working within the western art tradition have represented hei tiki in a diverse range of media and from distinct perspectives. It will also consider the role of popular culture in our twenty-first century understanding of hei tiki.

Fundamental to the exhibition are the linkages between taonga, historic, modern and contemporary art. Te Hei Tiki will bring together works ranging from taonga to contemporary representations of hei tiki, Māori portraits by Gottfried Lindauer to a painted mural by Arnold Wilson. Sometimes contentious, frequently identity affirming the exhibition will explore the enduring history of hei tiki.

Curated by
Ngahiraka Mason and Jane Davidson
New Gallery
$5 - $7

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