Te Papa Mataaho Collective exhibition

The Mataaho Collective at their new exhibition at Te Papa.From left, Terri Te Tau, Bridget Reweti, Sarah Hudson and Erena Baker. YOAN JOLLY/SUPPLIED.

André Chumko, Six artworks by the Mataaho Collective go on show at Te Papa, Stuff, 19 December 2022

A major new commission by New Zealand artists the Mataaho Collective has opened at Te Papa alongside five of the collective’s existing artworks, shown together for the first time.

The exhibition, Te Puni Aroaro, features six works made of industrial materials that reflect contemporary Māori experience.

Renowned for large-scale installations, Mataaho is made up of four Māori women artists who have featured in Europe, the Americas and Australia.

The collective was established in 2012, and is a collaboration between Erena Baker-Arapere (Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and Ngāti Raukawa), Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko, and Tūhoe), Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi), and Dr Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa).

The Te Papa work is the collective’s largest. Spanning the whole of the museum’s double-height threshold gallery, Takapau (woven mat), measures 200sqm and is suspended above the visitor.

Made of 480 ratchets and stainless steel buckles, 960 hooks and almost 6 kilometres of polyester hi-vis tie-downs, the immersive and site-responsive installation draws on the collective’s research of whāriki (fine mats) and their time spent in Te Papa’s collection.

Takapau is the largest work the collective has ever created. YOAN JOLLY/SUPPLIED.

Te Papa’s contemporary art curator Dr Nina Tonga said the installation of the works recognised the incredible contribution the collective was making to contemporary art globally.

In their art the collective combines ancient techniques with contemporary materials.

Their art often takes the form of large-scale, fibre-based installations that highlight the complexities of Māori lives.

“We as Māori place a huge amount of value on to our art forms and our taonga, and our work is founded within the contemporary realities of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). We’re grateful to be able to spend time in [Te Papa’s] collections, learning from our ancestors’ techniques,” Mataaho Collective said in a statement.

One of the artworks being shown in New Zealand for the first time.

Kiko Moana was created for the documenta​ art exhibition in Kassel, Germany. The 11-metre by 4m work is a blue cascading ocean made of 60 panels of tarpaulin.

The collective said they were proud to show it, alongside the five other works.

“It’s really exciting for us to be exhibiting here in Aotearoa. There are some works in the show that our whānau and friends haven’t even seen. Given the size and scale we work with, we can’t usually show more than one piece in the same space – this is a real privilege for us,” the collective said.