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.


Four figures, four voyages

The four figures are all representative of different voyaging narratives. Starting from the left is Ngāti Tūwharetoa ancestor Ngatoroirangi, who travelled on the Arawa waka from his ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. Upon his arrival in Aotearoa, he journeyed inland to Tongariro in the central North Island. Struck by the coldness of the snow, Ngatoroirangi called to his sisters Kuiwai and Haungaroa to send fire. They obliged and engulfed the region from Whakaari to Tongariro in geothermal activity.

Two ancestors of the Tainui waka – Whakaotirangi and Hoturoa – feature in Arapere’s next figure. Whakaotirangi carried kūmara seeds to Aotearoa and propagated many plants. Her husband Hoturoa navigated the Tainui waka.

The third is the inverted figure of Māui, respected throughout the Pacific for fishing up Te Ika-a-Māui, the North Island, with a hook made from the jawbone of his grandmother. A trickster and shape shifter, Māui tried to attain immortality by climbing inside Hinenuitepō.

The Pacific navigator Kupe, who is credited as being the first person to arrive in Aotearoa, stands on the far right. But not every reference is historic; the cap that Kupe wears represents a new school of knowledge holders. Specifically, it’s a nod to Sir Hekenukumai Busby, who did more than anyone else to re-establish the art of waka and Pacific navigation in modern times.

All of these figures are held in a waka huia. The selection of a waka huia instead of a waka emphasises the artist’s perception that as well as being a highway, the ocean is also a treasure box containing immeasurable wealth.

What tupuna or ancestors would you include in your waka huia (treasure box)?

He waka hono i te whenua ki te moana – Waka connecting land and sea

Putting Māori narratives in a contemporary light

The story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku

The sea is part of us

For the artist, the relationship between tangata whenua and the ocean is something that needs to be treasured and protected. Through mātauranga Māori principles, ancestors understood that the sea is part of us. In 2019 Aotearoa, however, our highway to the world is in danger due to unsustainable exploitation, as we treat the ocean as just a resource.

This work is about the future as much as it’s about history. It calls for action and a restructuring of our relationship with Tangaroa (guardian of the ocean). We need to adapt to mātauranga Māori principles, especially kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Without ensuring our oceans are healthy and surviving, we cannot guarantee that we too are healthy and surviving.


Tuia 250: Polishing the bones

Exploring responses from those working with the Tuia 250 kaupapa - including the spiritual, artistic and professional perspectives.

Listen now



Reweti Arapere

Reweti Arapere’s art practice is contextualised thorough drawing and he is committed to representing customary Māori narratives within a contemporary light. He holds a Master of Maōri Visual Arts from Toioho ki Apiti School of Maōri Studies, Massey University and has exhibited extensively both throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.


  • Dowse, Rangimatua, 2015. Read more

  • Dowse podcast, ep. 14 The Guardian in the Gallery. Read more

  • Te Papa, He Paki Taonga i a Māui: Meet the artist – Reweti Arapere, 2019. Read more

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