City Gallery

Past exhibition

Ngaahina Hohaia

26 September 2009–1 September 2010

Ngaahina Hohaia was raised at Parihaka, in Taranaki. In the 1860s, the village was a refuge for Māori displaced during the New Zealand Land Wars and engaged in a campaign of non-violent resistance to European occupation of confiscated land. It was closed down through a Government military operation in 1881 and its leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi imprisoned. Hohaia’s show features over 500 embroidered woollen poi made from secondhand blankets. The blanket is a metaphor for the land. She says, ‘Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kaakahi stated to the crown that they were willing to share their "blanket”, but that sovereign independence must remain with Māori.’ Her poi are based on the Parihaka tradition of poi-manu, the use of poi in ritual recitation of genealogy. ‘The poi is the manu, the messenger’, says Hohaia. The images embroidered on the poi are derived from Parihaka oral tradition.