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Tukutuku panel a welcome to Artsenta

Tukutuku panel a welcome to Artsenta

A tukutuku panel, created by Artsenta’s artists over three months, takes pride of place in the entranceway to the Dunedin creative space and serves as a welcome to everyone.

George is one of the artists who worked under the guidance of weaver Phyllis Smith of Puketeraki Marae to create the design and the panel. She says tukutuku weaving is done in pairs and was a “wonderful” communal activity.

“It was important that we did the best job we could so it required a lot of patience, undoing of stitches and counting,” George says.

“There were three of us who did a lot of the work with Phyllis and then others did what they wanted to – sometimes, just one stitch.

“A lot of hands have touched the work and helped create it. There’s a part of me in the panel and we all feel a sense of pride that we’ve created something so special.”

Spanning the panel is a royal albatross, representing the albatross colony on Otago Peninsula. George explains the other elements of the design: the sky, the mountain, the river, the hills and the harbour, and all the people who are a part of Artsenta.

Fellow Artsenta artist Kowhai says she found the process spiritual, encouraging her to learn more about mahi toi (Māori art) and taking a course at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Kowhai has also written a poem that will be hung alongside the panel. Introducing the poem, she has written:

“This ko tukutuku panel was a creation of the Auaha a Iwi, the people of Artsenta, with the gentle guidance of Phyllis Smith. Designs and symbols from Kai Tahu weaving traditions were used to describe our collective identity and qualities that represent us.”

Kowhai is studying indigenous development at Otago University. “I love that Artsenta is incorporating Māori perspectives. I feel really proud of what we achieved and loved the sense of community when we were working on it. I still remember all the conversations and laughter as we did the weaving.”

Paul Smith, Director of Artsenta, says the creative space is serious about its commitment to being a partner under the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We have a way to go in making it a reality on a day-to-day basis but this panel helps to make Artsenta a welcoming place for Māori. It also represents in a creative way everyone who is part of our creative community.”

Artsenta moved to its current premises in Princes Street, Dunedin in late 2015.

“The new building has made a big change to the way we work,” Paul says. “We’re a lot more visible, we have more people coming here and we’re engaging more with the public.


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