14 June 2005 - 03 September 2005
This collection of ‘tiki’ and ‘tiki inspired’ objects is one of the collections belonging to distinguished curator, collector and writer Mick Pendergrast, author of numerous publications about Maori fibre including Raranga Whakairo, Te Mahi Kete, Feathers & Fibre. Pendergrast has significant collections of objects, particularly fibre based objects, from across the Pacific and South East Asia and it was his search for objects for these collections that initially led him to collect these ‘tiki’.
Scouring mainly Auckland markets, junk shops and secondhand shops he regularly came across these ‘tiki’ works. When unsuccessful in finding objects for his principal collections and "feeling deprived if I didn’t find the things I was looking for” he started buying these ‘tiki’ often for just a “few cents”
He concedes that at first “I didn’t like them too much” but he recognized that these largely domestic and sometimes disposable works were worth collecting and that it was important to “acknowledge the existence of these, whether we like it or not.”
These ‘tiki’ in various forms and materials, reference ‘real’ or traditional Maori hei-tiki that are treasured taonga and adornments worn around the neck. These ‘tiki’ might be regarded as ‘hey tiki’ given their difference and distance from hei-tiki. Whether or not one might consider any of these objects as ‘inauthentic’, ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’ these ‘hey tiki’ can be viewed as authentic expressions of the currency and potency of the tiki as a unique symbol of affiliation and identity for many people in Aotearoa New Zealand. In assembling this collection of ‘hey tiki’ Mick Pendergrast recognized that the use - or appropriation – of the tiki form and motif in these objects is a complex and sometimes controversial cultural phenomenon related to deeper and wider issues such as national identity and inter-cultural relations.