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Eternal Thread - weaving the past & present

9 February 2005

weaving the past & present

History and stories are woven together with fibre and feather in Toi Maori - The Eternal Thread: Te Aho Mutunga Kore – The Changing Art of Maori Weaving which goes on display 25 February in the Maori Gallery. This landmark exhibition is the first major international touring exhibition to celebrate the changing art of Maori weaving and offers an opportunity to view a rare collection of traditional and contemporary weaving by some of New Zealand’s foremost Maori artists.

The exhibition is the creation of Toi Maori Aoteoroa who are responsible for Maori art preservation, development and promotion and has previously shown at Pataka Porirua Museum of Arts and Culture. The Auckland Museum season is part of the AK05 festival and is the final New Zealand destination before departing for a tour of North America.

The Eternal Thread offers kakahu (cloaks), taaniko (finger weaving), tukutuku (reed rafters and panels), piupiu (flax skirts) and kete (bags) and photographs from the private collections of the Hetet family, the Te Kanawa family and other weaving dynasties.

In recent years there has been a major revival of traditional weaving of fine cloaks and kete by a new generation of Maori artists. Parallel with this has been a movement of contemporary weaving rooted in tradition. The exhibition will create dialogues between the works, juxtaposing the radicalism of the modern with the historic.

Auckland Museum Curator of Maori, Chanel Clarke believes this is the definitive exhibition of its type stating, “The Eternal Thread shows the dynamism of the art form, which although rooted in tradition remains open to the world of new ideas and materials. If one were to put together an exhibition of weaving today that encompassed the work of Maori weavers within New Zealand today, this would be it!”

This exhibition demonstrates the spiritual significance of weaving within Maori culture. Each object is full of symbolism and hidden meanings, embodying Maori spiritual values and beliefs. As well as being works of art the cloaks reflect the mana of Maori culture and are seen as mantles of leadership and protection. Photos of Maori tupuna (ancestors) wearing cloaks acknowledge and honour the past and provide compelling evidence of the significance of cloaks within Maori culture.

“In Maoridom weaving is acknowledged as having its own life force, and is accorded a level of respect depending on the mana of the weaver and the qualities of the weaving process” Erenora Puketapu-Hetet

This is a fabulous opportunity to see contemporary usage of a traditional art form with the world’s greatest collection of Maori taonga (treasures) as a backdrop.

The Eternal Thread is showing in the Maori Gallery until 15 April 2005.

Notes for editors:

- This is the first temporary exhibition to be held in the Maori Court at Auckland Museum.
- Auckland weavers from the group Nga Mahi Raranga o Tamaki Makaurau will be putting on weaving demonstrations in a programme running from Friday 25 February through Sunday 13 March. Times TBA. Please advise if you would like updates on this.
- Auckland Museum is hosting two performances of the Honouring Words Aoteoroa – 3rd International Indigenous Authors Celebration Tour. Biographies of performers are available on request:
o Saturday 5 March – 3.30pm
Readings by Hinemoana Baker, Thomas King, Sharon Shorty and Jared Thomas with guest novelist James George

o Sunday 6 March – 3.30pm
Readings by Marilyn Dumont, Joe Harawira, Kenny Laughton, Kerry Reed-Gilbert and Robert Sullivan

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