An exhibition of firsts: Mataaho Collective’s monumental installation at Te Papa

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

The exhibition Te Puni Aroaro features six monumental and ground-breaking works, each made of industrial materials that reflect contemporary Māori experience.

Renowned for large-scale installations, Mataaho is made up of four wāhine Māori artists who have worked together for over a decade. Their works have been featured at major international exhibitions from Germany and the UK to Toronto, Honolulu and Sydney. They were the winners of the 2021 Walters Prize and Arts Foundation Laureates in 2022. This is the first time their work has been exhibited at Te Papa.

The collective has created its largest-ever work specifically for Te Papa’s art gallery. Spanning across the whole of the double-height threshold gallery, Takapau measures an impressive 200 square metres and is suspended above the visitor.

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

“It’s an incredible opportunity for us as wāhine Māori artists to be taking up so much space in the national museum of New Zealand,” says Mataaho Collective.

“This exhibition gives a lot of space to the six works – each has its own room which allows visitors to really get to know and experience them.”

Dr Nina Tonga, Curator Contemporary Art, is excited to showcase the work of these leading New Zealand artists.

“Over the last ten years, they have created awe-inspiring installations for numerous international exhibitions and biennales.”

“This exhibition celebrates the incredible contribution Mataaho Collective is making to contemporary art in Aotearoa and around the world.” Mataaho Collective fuse together ancient techniques and contemporary materials.

“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. We’re grateful to be able to spend time in collections, learning from our ancestors’ techniques,” Mataaho says.

“We’ve taken bodily, domestic-sized techniques we see on quite a small scale, and we’ve up-scaled them to showcase the value of that.”

One of the artworks is being shown in New Zealand for the first time. Kiko Moana was created for the prestigious documenta art exhibition in Kassell, Germany. The 11-metre by 4-metre work is a blue cascading ocean made of 60 panels of tarpaulin. The collective is proud to be able to show this, and the other five works, at home.

“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,” says Mataaho.

About Mataaho Collective

Established in 2012, Mataaho Collective 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 artists’ ‘four-brain, eight-hand approach’ enables them to produce work bigger than their individual capabilities, but with a single, collective authorship. Their work often takes the form of large-scale, fibre-based installations that highlight the complexities of Māori lives.

Mataaho's artwork has been exhibited at major international exhibitions, including documenta 14 in 2017, Honolulu Biennial in 2019, Toronto Biennial of Art and the 23rd Biennale of Sydney - rīvus in 2022

They have exhibited in Oceania, London (2018) and Paris (2019). They were the recipients of the Walters Prize in 2021 and The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate Award in 2022.


Media contact

Heather Byrne, Senior Communications Advisor, Te Papa
029 601 0120 |

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Image caption: Mataaho Collective, Takapau (detail), on display in Mataaho Collective: Te Puni Aroaro exhibition. Photo by Yoan Jolly, 2022. Te Papa

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