Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Nga Kakhu O te Ao Tawhito • Clothing of an Older Era


  • Medium: harakeke (New Zealand flax fibre)
  • Size: 61 × 20 × 9 inches (incl. stand)
  • Reference Code: KX30608

This piece makes reference to our classical period of kakahu (clothing). This classical period was the peak of cultural achievement, within a three hundred year term, approximately, prior to the advent of European culture and technology. It provided a reminder of the events and social unrest that took place due to different values brought with the arrival of Colonization. Among the changes, the Maori adapted to European style clothing and carvings suffered defacement by the removal of genital areas. In Maori terms, this is relevant to issues involved with whakapapa (genealogy). As the creation of kakahu was part of the economic system, the change of lifestyle had a negative impact on the social structure.

This kakahu is made for performance, consisting of a pake (shoulder piece) and a maro (loin covering). Suspended away from the body, the maro has mask like features when spread open and takes on the form of a bird. The maro in harakeke woven over the male form combines the two ideals of the renewal of Maori-consciousness and economic stability.