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Māori boys and girls performing kapa haka.

Pūkana: moments in Māori performance

Opening mid Sept 2019 and running to May 2020.

Get ready to celebrate Māori performance at our upcoming exhibition — Pūkana: moments in Māori performance. Opening mid-September 2019.

Pūkana — what the dictionaries say

He Pātaka Kupu

Ka whakarahi i ngā karu, ka whātero te arero, ka whakakotikoti i te kanohi i runga i te ihi, te wana, te riri, te whakatoi, te ngahau, te aha atu. He Pātaka Kupu

Te Aka

(verb) to stare wildly, dilate the eyes — done by both genders when performing haka and waiata to emphasise particular words and to add excitement to the performance. Te Aka


Performance at the heart of Māori culture

Performance is at the heart of Māori culture, and its contribution to Aotearoa Whānui and the world.

Māori have been performing waiata and haka mai rā anō, since time began — for entertainment, as part of warfare, to seduce, to grieve, and to welcome.

Haka — arguably the best-known indigenous performance art, is now used to represent the whole country.

Alongside this and other traditional art forms, such as waiata and poi, Māori have excelled in many European performance genre, including opera, theatre, poetry, music and dance.


Pūkana celebrates excellence in Māori performance

Pūkana: Moments in Māori performance will showcase and celebrate excellence in Māori performance, as represented in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Pūkana will range far and wide to give visitors a sense of the ihi, wehi and wana, inimical to Maori performance.

From Kiri te Kanawa singing to an international audience of millions at the 1981 Wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, way back in time to the exploits of Maui the Trickster and other mythological heroes, forward to 1994 and Once Were Warriors and its searing view of Māori family life, right up to the present, with the world-acclaimed Alien Weaponry, who've forged new ground pairing Te Reo Māori with Heavy Metal,


Pūkana events

The Pūkana exhibition will be accompanied by a number of public events.


Feature image: Studio De Luxe. Maori girls and boys of a winning haka team, Maraeroa. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-6303-14. Alexander Turnbull Library.