Wahine Māori artists weaving new life into art world

A collective of wahine Māori artists is celebrating a decade of working together across the globe with a special new project at Te Papa.

The Mataaho Collective consists of Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, Terri Te Tau and Bridget Reweti.

The four wahine Māori artists create intricate installations on a grand scale, combining traditional toi Māori art practices with contemporary materials.

"We joined forces and realised that we could go big straight away and we've just kind of built on that over 10 years," Hudson said.

Baker said Māori have always adapted to new technologies and materials.

"We see it as like a continuum and acknowledging that tradition of innovation."

They've shared this innovation in different art galleries around the world. From Germany to Canada, Te Tau said it is a humbling experience sharing their work.

"Hearing people's personal responses to work is always really special… because they're bringing their own experiences to it."

In 2021, the Mataaho collective was recognised for their work receiving Aotearoa's biggest contemporary art award, the Walter's Prize, alongside renowned Māori artist Maureen Lander.

Now at Aotearoa's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, the threads of a special project are being woven together.

Wahine Māori artists weaving new life into art world
Photo credit: The Hui

The collective's latest installation, called Takapau, was made using 480 buckles and 6 kilometres worth of strop.

"The first day when we started putting Takapau together, I felt, like, euphoric," Hudson said.

"We've been planning for a year - it's finally happening."

Reweti feels grateful to create such large-scale work alongside her friends.

"We're here during install and work with our friends and get up the cherry picker and do fun things. It's amazing."

The Mataaho Collective's new exhibition is now open at Te Papa and also features a selection of their work from the last decade.

Hudson said some pieces have never been shown in Aotearoa.

"We're really proud to be able to show it at home.

Made with support from Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.