NZ showcased at Santa Monica as part of Tuku Iho | Living Legacy

PRESS RELEASE: New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute

It’s been the scene of Hollywood movies, now Māori culture has taken over the Santa Monica Pier with a breathtaking kapa haka performance.

The display, set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, was part of the events surrounding Tuku Iho | Living Legacy, which has opened at Venice Beach’s Rose Room.

The exhibition is looking to replicate the runaway success it experienced in Washington DC earlier this year, which saw more than 250,000 people visit the exhibition and more than a million more engaging with it on social media.

Tuku Iho | Living Legacy project director, Karl Johnstone says the display on the Pier captured the attention of crowds, and highlights the interest people have in discovering more about international cultures and their artistic practices.

Māori concepts and the ways we are able to share these through our static and performing artistic disciplines continues to draw interest both online, within the exhibition and at our various events around Venice Beach and Santa Monica, says Mr Johnstone.

“Our exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC was a great success and the Californian audiences have been equally enthusiastic in both experiencing and sharing their histories.”

Developed by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), the exhibition fuses traditional and contemporary culture with more than 70 works of art handcrafted by students and teachers from NZMACI, based at Te Puia in Rotorua.

The exhibition also features in-situ carving, live tā moko, kapa haka and contemporary performances and presentations. For the first time pounamu (greenstone) carving will be carried out during the exhibition.

Alongside the purpose of sharing our art and culture around the world the Tuku Iho programme is about engaging with the histories and experiences of other people and cultures, Mr Johnstone says.

“The team was welcomed into the region by the Chumash people in Malibu and subsequently by the Tongva people, the local tribe of the Los Angeles Basin and Southern Channel Islands.”

As well as turning the spotlight on Māori culture, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity for NZInc to showcase New Zealand to California – with partners such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism New Zealand, NZ Wine Growers, New Zealand Film Commission and Immigration NZ leveraging the exhibition to hold events showcasing what the country has to offer.

Well-known and accomplished contemporary New Zealand artists and musicians Rob Ruha, Majic and Teeks will also feature as part of the live performances.

As part of the exhibition, a tekoteko (ancestral figure) will be carved and completed on site by New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. Once completed, it will be named and gifted as part of the closing ceremony.

More kapa haka displays at Venice Beach are planned as part of the exhibition, which runs until November 2.

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