Arapeta Hākura and Ashleigh Taupaki – He Wheke He Whai (12/07/2023 – 12/08/2023)

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In He Wheke He Whai, Arapeta Hākura and Ashleigh Taupaki explore their intrinsic relations to bodies of water in the Hauraki region. Spanning across two spaces, both artists will present sound, video, and sculptural objects to convey the wetlands and harbours of this rohe.

He Wheke refers to Te Wheke nui o te Rangi, an ancient celestial navigation system used in customary Pacific wayfinding traditions, manifested through the bodies of water which Hākura activates. Laying in the Northern most area of Hauraki, a stronghold of Ngāti Whanaunga rohe, Hākura draws upon their kāinga the Whangateau Estuary and awakens their connections to waka navigation through mauri (vibration) and karanga (sound). An ancient land marker (Whangateau) for celestial navigation to Aotearoa, given the name ‘the harbour of tides’, Hākura transforms white clay, a tohu, from the harbour into a collection of Pongaaihu, customary Māori nose flutes, that call upon languages and traditions of the Hauraki people.

In the Wetland Portraits series, Taupaki presents three quiet, reflective video works that portray her walks across the Hauraki wetland sites that are significant to her iwi, Ngāti Hako. Each video shows the wider catchment bodies like streams, ponds, and the moana that flow in and out of the wetlands. One portrait captures sea foam spirits that float down into the repo; while another finds connections between the movement of birds in the wind, and wind through native grasses. The sounds of tūī, the crash of ocean waves, and the ripples of slow inland creeks are melded together to form a wider picture of these wetlands that are connected through shared histories of Māori migration and settlement. On the ground, the artist has fashioned kōhatu into small square tiles, mosaiced into a wetland map. Each stone has been collected during these wetland walks, and reminds us of the colours and layers beneath our feet.








He Whai refers to Te Whai o te Ika ā Māui, which was the name given to the Western Seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula by Hako, the progenitor of the Ngāti Hako people from which Taupaki hails. It is common in Hauraki tradition to see the North Island as a whai, or stingray. Hako understood the peninsula as the barbed tail of the whai, and this Western Seaboard is also the in-between place that brings both bodies of work together. These waterways connect through the Firth of Thames, up that line of Tīkapa Moana, and illustrate the whakapapa connections that flow through the Hako and Whanaunga lineages. These ocean currents feed the estuaries and wetlands in that inlet, and have sustained tāngata whenua for centuries.


Opens: Wednesday 12 July, 5.30pm, with refreshments by Liberty Breweries and Decibel Wines
Hours: 12 – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Closes: Saturday 12 August


Ashleigh Taupaki
Ashleigh Taupaki (Ngāti Hako, Samoan) is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her work explores Māori connections to place through concepts of indigenous narrative and non-human agency. Working with carefully collected materials, she creates works that manifest ideas of kaitiakitanga (stewardship) and collaboration with natural resources. Taupaki depicts places that are significant to her own ancestral origins in Hauraki, and strives to revitalise the stories and knowledge of her people and lands. She has recently completed an MFA at Elam School of Fine Arts and is currently studying towards a Doctor of Philosophy, specialising in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. Her doctoral research looks into Ngāti Hako connections to wetlands, which also critiques colonial histories and occupations, while uplifting their mana as repositories of cultural knowledge and taonga species.

Arapeta Hākura
Arapeta Hākura is a Takatāpui curator and artist of Whanaunga, Ruanui, Mahuta, Koata, Te Wehi, Kahu, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāpuhi, Porou, English, Scottish and Croatian descent. Their creative practice is conceptualised as a vessel that is used to explore their cultural identities. They consider themselves a weaver of stories told through adornment, textiles, objects, sound, performance and cinema often drawing upon various traditional Māori art forms passed down through their whakapapa (lineage).

Arapeta is a Māori weaving specialist within their hapū, cultural centres, as well as international museum institutions such as the British Museum and Smithsonian in Washington DC.

They are widely known for their Masters research He Taonga Tuku Iho conducted at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland in 2020. A celebrated research, their Masters incorporated ancestral knowledge from their whānau and kaumaatua as a catalyst to revive the art of Parakiekie (Māori garments made of Kiekie, Freycinetia banksii). They are currently undergoing doctoral research titled ‘Te Wheke o Te Rangi’ at Waipapa Taumata Rau.

Arapeta has curated and exhibited across Aotearoa, Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) and internationally and is represented by Southern Stars Projects in London, England.