Nikau Hindin: Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai

Jun 20 2020 – Oct 4 2020

Nikau Hindin, Iwikuamo'o, The Backbone of the Sky Connecting the Northern Stars to the Southern Stars, 2020. Photo: Shaun Mathews

Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai is a body of work by Nikau Hindin (Ngai Tūpoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi), showcasing her knowledge and commitment to Toi Māori, specifically in aute and documenting the movement of celestial bodies.

Barkcloth, known as siapo in Sāmoa, hiapo in Niue, kapa in Hawai'i, masi in Fiji, ngatu in Tonga and aute in Aotearoa, is prevalent throughout Moana Oceania. Believed to be lost in Aotearoa since the mid-nineteenth century, the aute plant was brought here along with kumara, taro and whau, and was worked into cloth for adornment, manu aute and to wrap taonga. With a cooler climate and changes to available resources in the 1840s, the plant and practice slowly receded from our shores. The lasting remnants of the practice found through the presence of aute in te reo Māori and the intricately worked patu aute, found in swamps throughout Aotearoa, now held by various museums across the country.

Harvesting, stripping, beating and soaking the fibres into a cloth-like material, Hindin inscribes the aute with patterns derived from tukutuku and tāniko, using kōkōwai and ngārahuKōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai documents the artist’s journey in understanding Maramataka and traditional celestial navigation practices, tracing and recording the movements of stars and the moon across the sky. The works in this exhibition are as much a documentation of Maramataka as they are a celebration of it, each star a tohu of a new cycle with the moon signalling a new period of environmental change, bringing growth or introspection as well as guiding harvesting and planting patterns.

Hindin’s practice has been exhibited widely throughout Aotearoa as well as internationally, most recently at Hong Kong’s Para Site. Recent exhibitions include: Takiri: an unfurling, New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui A Tongaroa, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (October 2019–June 2020); Koloa: Women, Art and Technology, Para Site, Hong Kong (2019–2020); Release the Stars, Tim Melville Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2020).

Aute: barkcloth
Manu aute: Māori kites
Whau: Cork Tree
Taonga: Treasure or prized-possession
Patu aute: tapa beaters
Tohu: sign or symbol
Tukutuku: ornamental lattice-work
Tāniko: finger-weaving
Kōkōwai: red ochre pigment
Ngārahu: charcoal or black soot pigment
Maramataka: Māori Lunar Calendar

WATCH: Nikau Hindin talk with TVNZ Te Karere, 19 June 2020

READ: Canvas Magazine interviews Nikau about some of her favourite things

LISTEN: Jesse Mulligan, RNZ Afternoons chats to Nikau about the exhibition

READ: Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai, a poem by Nikau Hindin