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Exhibition sheds new light on weaving work

DSC3046 24 August 2019 2429 x 1621

This morning we had a blessing to officially open the latest exhibition at MTG Hawke’s Bay - Turuturu: Fingers, Feathers and Fibre, which is available now for public viewing. The exhibition is named turuturu after the weaving peg, which is placed in the ground and used to anchor the weaving in place while the maker creates their work.

With every exhibition I always learn something new and this time it’s something I’m astonished that I hadn’t realised years ago. Looking at kete, I’ve always admired the enormous talent and skill that goes into creating stunning intricate works of art but I’ve underappreciated kete with loose weave and holes – erroneously seeing these as ‘lesser’ works. Through the eyes of guest curator Nigel How, I now realise the real importance of these kete. Used to hold potato and kumara, the holes allow the dirt to fall away, and it’s these kete that help ensure people are fed – what could be more important. 

There’s a rich diversity of stunning creations within the exhibition. A number of kete are on display, incorporating a wide range of materials including kiwi feathers and even turkey feathers. The different materials, styles and techniques used have created wonderful patterns and designs - these are really beautiful and important works of art. We have a number of cloaks on display as well, including a gorgeous little child’s christening cloak complete with peacock feathers. There are also belts and a tea cosy in the exhibition.

Designed to be an exhibition celebrating the talent of weavers, you may notice that a number of the taonga have spots where the feathers have worn away and this allows viewers to get a good look at the technique behind the objects – to see how the weaver has worked to create the finished product.

Cloaks and kete are not out on display as often as other hardier taonga, such as hei tiki, pou, etc. This is in order to ensure the long-term protection of textiles in the collection, which are particularly susceptible to damage from light and cannot be left on extended display. I hope many of you will take the opportunity to come and see the beauty and talent on display while these treasures are ‘out in the light’.

The opening of this lovely exhibition also gave me the perfect opportunity to bring out my own treasured kete – a beautiful black and red bag gifted to me by Ngai Tamanuhiri when I was working at Tairāwhiti Museum. Truly one of my most favourite objects in the world. 

Next week I’m really looking forward to the start of the New Zealand International Film Festival and hope to see many of you at the opening film on Thursday 29 August. I think the film looks fascinating and I can’t wait to see it. From fibres to film there’s always something to see at MTG Hawke’s Bay.


  • The New Zealand International Film Festival at MTG Century Theatre begins Thursday 29 August. Tickets available now through Ticketek and at MTG.
  • Soundbites. Project Prima Volta students perform their solo songs. MTG Century Theatre, Monday 26 August 12:15-12:45pm. Free community event – koha appreciated.
  • Project Banaba Exhibition. Last chance to see with exhibition closing on Sunday 1 September. Free entry.

Image: A detail of one of the kete used to hold potato/kumara.

25 August 2019

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