About the exhibition

In Tākiri, An Unfurling, seven contemporary artists explore early Māori and European encounters through new work inspired by museum taonga. Through soundscape, photography, illustration, cloth making, weaving and sculpture, each artist explores and confronts the ongoing impact of these historic events.

The exhibition runs from 12 October 2019 - 7 June 2020 at the Edmiston Gallery, Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa New Zealand Maritime Museum. 

Tākiri, An Unfurling is part of the nationwide Tuia 250 commemoration and is supported by funding from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board Te Puna Tahua,Chisholm Whitney Charitable Trust and Pub Charity.

  • Reweti Arapere (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
  • Chris Charteris (iKiribati, Fijian, English)
  • Kohai Grace (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Porou, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa)
  • Nikau Gabrielle Hindin (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi)
  • Jasmine Togo-Brisby (Australian South Sea Islander)
  • Rongomaiaia Te Whaiti (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāi Hinewaka, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāti Waewae) 
  • 7558 Collective

Tuia – Encounters 250 was a commemoration in 2019 marking 250 years since the first encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769. Tuia 250 celebrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific voyaging heritage and was a national opportunity to hold honest conversations about the past, the present and how we navigate our shared future.


Kupe at Kapiti Coast 

Kohai’s work recognises Kupe, the master navigator, and tells of his discovery of Titapua on the Kapiti Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. The voyager and expert navigator who is increasingly accepted as the original discoverer of Aotearoa New Zealand is Kupe. Using his knowledge of stars and ocean currents, Kupe ventured across the Pacific on a waka hourua (double hulled sailing vessel) from his ancestral Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki.

For the artist, toroa (albatross) are a vital link to the discovery of Aotearoa by Kupe. The waiata Ka Tito Au describes Kupe navigating his way through Raukawa Moana (Cook Strait) and then Te Wai Pounamu. It explains how during this journey, Kupe discovered the toroa on the island of Titapua, near Raukawa Moana.

This kahu toroa (albatross cloak) has been crafted using the centuries-old technique of whatu. Whatu is a twining method that allows the practitioner to create cloaks without a loom, by twisting threads together. The artist also uses whiri to create muka (prepared flax fibre) out of harakeke (NZ flax). Toroa feathers constitute the main body of the work and give the cloak its distinctive texture and colour. 

Why do you think this kahu toroa is displayed like it is?

Te kitenga o Aotearoa – The discovery of Aotearoa

Tupuna traditions, contemporary art

Telling the story of Kupe as the original discoverer of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Toroa from Tāwhaki

The use of toroa (albatross) feathers demands that we consider the mana that toroa hold for Māori specifically. When building waka, toroa feathers are used to create puhi (adornment) on the taurapa (stern-post of a canoe) so that Tangaroa (guardian of the ocean) and Ranginui (guardian of the sky) have resting spots on the journey.

As divine birds, the pure white plumes of the toroa also have ancient whakapapa (ancestral connections). The cloak symbolically speaks of this lineage through the polarity in its design. The white feathers of the toroa are interpreted to be mārama – meaning life and light. The black muka at the tips of the kahu represent pōtangotango – death and darkness. For the universe to be fully realised, there is a battle between the forces that want to bring forth all the potential that exists and the forces that resist change (loosely understood as positive and negative energies).


Lost Knowledge: My ancestors were fricken smart

In this episode, we're rediscovering lost knowledge. As the Tuia commemoration and conversation continues, we examine disparities in the preservation of traditional knowledge.

Listen now



Kohai Grace

Kohai Grace is a weaver adept in customary weaving techniques, designs and materials. Her work is informed by research of garments in museums and private collections. With over 30 years’ experience, Kohai’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is held in the collection of Te Papa Tongarewa. She holds a Masters in Māori Visual Arts from Toioho ki Āpiti Massey University.


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