RAKEITIA (Ra-K-TeeAh) means ‘To Adorn’ in Māori and is the name of the latest collection of harakeke couture I’ve been working on for my artist residency.

Adornment in Pacific cultures has always been an important component of tribal ritual, events and ceremony and therefore coveted by Museum Houses around the world for centuries. Historically, the availability of resources and specialist skills required to create such taonga indicated a person’s mana or status.

The practice of adorning oneself physically continues to exist in popular culture which is why I have chosen to give RAKEITIA another meaning. As well as describing how we present ourselves (past and present), it can now also refer to the knowledge carried through the sharing of information and experience.

To be invited to the MET is such an honour and I can’t wait to share these practices from my perspective as Tangata Whenua, while being in the birthplace of my most influential passion – Hip Hop.

I want to share my love of this art form in a contemporary way – to acknowledge the mana of our taonga tuku iho that is living and continues to evolve.

I intend to create at least two adornment pieces in New York as part of my interactive workshops, demonstrating the labour intensive handiwork required to make these decorative pieces. I’m excited to use this inaugural New York visit to inspire the pieces produced during this time and in future.

I believe the skills displayed in RAKEITIA will engage audiences because while its foundations stem from matauranga Maori, it can’t help be heavily influenced by modern society and as mentioned, my love of Hip Hop culture which celebrates dance, art, music and performance.

Have you visited New York before? Have you been to the MET? If so let me know what I need to go see while I’m here. #kiaoraNYC

Shona Tawhiao