Date11 Jul 2023
"Kaua e wareware ko wai koe, kia a kaha koe ki to whakapapa."
— Queenie Erueti
Ko ngā kākahu tētahi o ngā tino tohu o te tuakiri, ā, koinei te āhuatanga e kaha mārama ai te tangata ko wai koe. E tohu ana i te wā me te wāhi, ka taea e ngā kākahu te whakaatu i te piripono, te tūnga, te paparanga rānei. He huarahi whaitake o te whakaputanga, ā, ahakoa te māmore o te kākahu he nui āna kōrero.
I konei, ka whakanui tātou i te momo kākahu e kitea whānuitia ana, te momo kākahu aweawe rawa atu, arā ko te tīhāte. He iti te utu o te whakaputa, he māmā te whakarerekē, ā, kua huri te tīhāte hei papanga whakatinana tauākī, piripono, mahara me te whakapono.
Kua whakamahia e te Māori ngā hoahoa tīhāte hei whakaatu i ngā hononga, hei tuku i ngā karere porotēhi me te whakanui i ngā wā hira. Ina tae atu ki tētahi hui nui i te ao Māori, ka kitea ngā tīhāte maha e kaha pānui ana i te whakapapa. Ka whakamahi ngā hoahoa tīhāte Māori i tētahi reo ataata i hua ake i te ahurea onāianei me ngā tae me ngā āhua tuku iho, ka whakahī te mau i ngā wā katoa, ā, e kaha kōhaehaetia ana, he taonga kohikohi hoki.
Kua kohikohia ēnei tīhāte mai i ngā wahi puta noa i te motu. I mahia te katoa i roto i te rima tau ki muri, ā, e tuku ana ngā kihukihu o ia hoahoa i ētahi atu kōrero mō te kaupapa i whakatinanahia ai.
Kei roto i tēnei kohinga tētahi wāhanga paku noa o ngā hoahoa o nāianei, ā, ka whakawhānuitia puta noa i te wā o te whakaaturanga – mēnā he tīhāte e arohanuitia ana e koe, ā, kāore e whakaaturia ana i konei, me whakamōhio mai! E tonoa nei koe kia tirotiro i ngā tārawa me te hopu whakaahua i te taha o ngā mea pai rawa ki a koe.
"Remember who you are, your strength is in your genealogy."
— Queenie Erueti
Kākahu is a strong signifier of identity and is often how people get a first impression of who you are. Symbolic of time and place, clothing can also show allegiances, status or hierarchy. It is a potent method of expression, and even the simplest garments can say a lot.
Here, we celebrate a ubiquitous and powerful item of clothing, the tīhāte (T-shirt). Cheap to produce, easy to customise, the tīhāte has become a fabric embodiment of ideology, loyalty, memory and beliefs.
Tīhāte designs have been used by Māori to show affiliations, share protest messages and commemorate important moments. Attend any major event in te ao Māori and there will be an array of tīhāte fiercely proclaiming whakapapa through hapū- and iwi-specific designs. The visual language of Māori tīhāte draws on contemporary culture and from traditional colours, shapes and forms. Tīhāte are worn proudly and often become coveted and collectable items; in recent years many of the most sought-after designs have come from new brands that celebrate modern Māori identity.
These tīhāte have been brought together from across the motu. All were made within the past five years and the tags accompanying each design share more about the kaupapa they were realised for.
This collection captures only a small number of current designs and will grow over the course of the exhibition – if you have a much-loved tīhāte design that doesn’t feature here, let us know! You’re invited to explore the racks and pose with your top picks.
Nga mihi to the teams at Blink and PSP for their guidance and assistance with installation.
Ngā mihi to the contributors so far:
Ake Ake Ake
Aotearaw Denim Co
Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole
Manawatia a Matariki
Māori Womens Welfare League
Māoriland Film Festival
Nichola Te Kiri
Soil and Sand
Te Atiawa Taranaki
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
The Hori Gallery
Tino Rangatiratanga Flag
Wairau Maori Art Gallery
Whakatohea Maori trust Board