Working in partnership artists Alicia Courtney and Wiremu Wilson Diamond (Ngāti Pūkenga O Manaia Ki Hauraki) explore technology within Māori material culture and its practical application. Concerned with the use Western language to describe or represent indigenous knowledge and understandings accurately, they use whakapapa as a reference point to recognize and pay homage to traditional forms and beliefs.
As children of the land, they wish to acknowledge the techniques and inspiration of Te Ao Māori and connect pathways of knowledge to celebrate the diversity and unity within the Pacific. The kākahu (cloaks) individually represent and collectively tell the korero and history of Maui Tikitiki a Taranga as an ancestral and heroic figure. Maui is a significant and idealised individual within Maori society and known as a quick, intelligent, bold, resourceful, cunning, and fearless person. His lessons are passed down as traditions through their tipuna (elders) and teach principles and values of life which inform their relationship and connection with the natural world as tangata whenua.
Courtney and Wilson Diamond's collaborative works also address issues of material culture by using inorganic and organic materials such as feathers, paua shells and mother of pearl, steel, natural and synthetic pigments and fibres, indigenous and introduced plants. This interrogates the balance between Te Ao Tawhito (traditional Māori life and customs) with the necessity of living in Te Ao Hurihuri (the contemporary world), by questioning the participation of gender roles and Pākehā and Māori identities.
→ Tātau: all of us, 2003, exhibition card