From 1-31 August 2019, visitors to the Tuku Iho | Living Legacy exhibition in Gallery 3, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT will be transported to a different country and culture. The exhibition, developed by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), aims to protect, promote and perpetuate Māori arts, crafts and culture. By offering guests the opportunity to experience unique artworks and performance for free, Tuku Iho | Living Legacy plays an important role in deepening awareness and understanding of New Zealand culture as Japan gears up for the much-anticipated Rugby World Cup.
The exhibition began with a spectacular opening night performance by Rob Ruha & Jay'ed, which involved a musical collaboration of Te Reo Māori and Japanese that created a stunning track "Ka Rere". Live performance continued to be a core feature of the exhibition, with Raukura performing the Kapa Haka daily from 1-14 August in various locations around Tokyo. Kapa Haka encompasses traditional Māori performing arts, one of which is the famous ‘Haka’ performed at the beginning of rugby matches. Raukura is a kapa haka group consisting of young talented performers selected to travel and perform with Tuku Iho | Living Legacy after winning New Zealand’s National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Competition in 2018.
In addition to their live performances, over 50 unique pieces of art produced by NZMACI will be displayed throughout the duration of the exhibition. These works cover a range of mediums, including traditional and contemporary stone, bone, pounamu (greenstone), wood carvings, textile works and bronze works. Guests can also experience similar pieces being created before their eyes, with the creations later being donated to the hosting venues.
Project leader Kiri Atkinson-Crean from Te Puia emphasises the many cultural connections between New Zealand and Japan. ‘There are many synergies between Māori and Japanese cultures’, stated Crean, ‘particularly in relation to the use of stories to keep history alive, dance, art and the importance of ancient legacy to modern society.’ Jamus Webster, who came to Japan with Tuku Iho | Living Legacy as the Kapa Haka tutor, believes the exhibition is ‘an opportunity to showcase, create relationships and educate the world about our unique Māori culture’.
In fact, every detail of Tuku Iho | Living Legacy has been carefully crafted by Karl Johnstone, former director of NZMACI, who hopes to not only share Māori culture but learn about other cultures and encourage a dialogue about identity. This fits within the exhibition’s broader goals to extend beyond cultural engagement and enable the strengthening of political relationships, encourage the forging of education partnerships and facilitate international trade opportunities. Since 2013, Tuku Iho | Living Legacy has travelled to China, Malaysia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, North America - and now Japan - with huge success. ANZCCJ would like to express our gratitude to NZMACI for bringing a taste of New Zealand to Tokyo and wish them all the best in the future.