Te Wheke means the octopus in te reo Māori. For many cultures around the Pacific Ocean, this resourceful, adventurous creature is a symbol of early voyages from the Polynesian homelands of Hawaiki. Full of stories of migration, connection and belonging, this huge new exhibition reflects the connections and tensions that shape our past, present and future. Te Wheke includes tivaevae, raranga (weaving), whakairo (carving), painting, works on paper, video, sculpture, photography and installation art – all telling a new story of Aotearoa’s art history, looking from the Pacific outwards.
Developed by the Gallery’s curators in collaboration with Stephanie Oberg, an independent writer and curator of Cook Islands heritage, Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania brings together a bold and exciting mix of traditional and contemporary art forms. At the heart of the exhibition is Ōtautahi Christchurch’s public collection, including spectacular new acquisitions displayed for the first time. They are complemented by key loans of taonga from significant collections around Aotearoa New Zealand.