beautiful monsters: Hey Tiki

May 01, 2006

Hey Tiki

I went to the Pataka gallery in Porirua today, never been there before. I was really impressed with the whole centre they’ve got out there. Bustling café, cute little Japanese style garden... and the displays in the gallery were really well done.

They have a Hei Tiki exhibition on at the moment, and it’s well worth a look. As you enter the gallery you walk between life-size historical photographs of Maori men and women wearing hei tiki, beautiful, gigantic, stanch tiki. And in front of the photos, in display boxes, were some of the amazing old hei tiki, all worn with time, but their paua eyes still glinting.

There were contemporary artworks, from blurry photographs of traditional hei tiki, bright coloured resin tiki on lollypop sticks, tiki robots, stylised prints, and abstracted tiki paintings.

There was an area where kids could decorate cutouts of tiki with glitter and collage, stamps and felt pens. And room 12 from Porirua primary school made tiki out of fimo.

And finally, in an alcove, there was the most amazing display of tiki kitch, including Air New Zealand tiki-topped swizzle sticks and toothpicks, tiki ashtrays, plastic, wood, ceramic, metal and glass tiki, coffee mugs, school rulers and salad servers. Even a photo of the Beatles wearing giant tiki, and one of the actual tiki, possibly worn by a Beatle.

On one level, it was really sad. A smorgasbord of cultural appropriation. I mean, ashtrays, toothpicks, how low can you go?

But on another level, it was just... fabulous. Tucked in amongst the teaspoons and letter-openers there was a tiny little nativity scene, with plastic snow covered pine trees, and baby Jesus, tucked into his manger, watched over by Mary and Joseph, and, in the shadows at the back of the stable, a gigantic, green, plastic, tiki.


I've been reading this essay, Wanting to Be Indian: When Spiritual Teaching Turns into Cultural Theft". It's good, I think, because it doesn't just tell me all the things I'm doing wrong. She discusses positive ways of living and relating. And on the way there I found this most excellent 404 message.

Posted by Fionnaigh at May 1, 2006 01:13 AM | TrackBack

hay, this is a bit random haha but were you by any chance at the chamber music concert the other night at the town hall? the goldner string quartet? i work as an usher there and im sure i recognised you from a picture u had on your blog. bahh i sound like a stalker


Posted by: Anna at May 5, 2006 11:01 AM


Posted by: KarlikSuka1 at May 19, 2006 05:45 AM

Hi, very interesting site

Posted by: flower shop richmond at May 21, 2006 03:59 AM