Māori culture alive in Argentina

Māori artworks have come to life in Buenos Aires over the last month in the Tuku Iho | Living Legacy exhibition hosted by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI).

Welcoming guests from June 10 – July 10, Tuku Iho is an exhibition of time-honoured Māori artworks created by students and teachers at NZMACI, featuring over 80 pieces made from wood, pounamu (greenstone), bone, stone, bronze and flax. Several living culture components were also on display to demonstrate the richness of Māori culture.

The NZMACI Kapa Haka group performed in several official ceremonies, school and hospital visits and “Flash Mob Hakas” at iconic Buenos Aires locations, while live demonstrations of wood carving, a Ta Moko (tattoo) artist and touch rugby games were also held.

NZMACI director, Karl Johnstone, says Tuku Iho is about sharing Māori culture far and wide, through engaging and connecting with people and other cultures from around the world.

“The exhibition provides an opportunity for our artists and performers to interact with the arts community and exhibition visitors, providing insights about Māori culture and connecting the art to the people it comes from.”

Ambassador of New Zealand in Argentina, Hayden Montgomery, says New Zealand should be proud of what the exhibition and surrounding activities have achieved.

“Tuku Iho has been able to, in a respectful way, showcase an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s culture and identity, which helps to define who we are as a country and demonstrate an example for others to follow.”

During their time in Buenos Aires, NZMACI worked very closely with the indigenous Wichí people of Argentina - Māori and Wichí carvers created traditional works alongside each other, while a photograph exhibition –  Live Legacy. Patrimony, Art and Reciprocity. Wichí and Māori people – served as a tribute to the two cultures.

NZMACI also made history by becoming the first country to present its indigenous peoples in the Argentinian National Congress, alongside the Wichí, Coya and Guarani indigenous peoples – none of whom had ever had the opportunity to visit their own congress.

A number of New Zealand government agencies have been involved with the exhibition opening, including Tourism New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Education New Zealand.

Tuku Iho | Living Legacy will make its way to Brazil later in the year.