Nikau Hindin
Born 1991, Te Rarawa/Ngāpuhi, Aotearoa New Zealand

Ebonie Fifita-Laufilitoga-Maka Fungamapitoa
Born 1984, Tonga, Aotearoa New Zealand

Hina Puamohala Kneubuhl Kihalaupoe
Born 1977, Maui, Hawai‘i

Hinatea Colombani
Born 1985, Arioi, Tahiti

Kesaia Biuvanua
Born 1993, Moce, Lau, Fiji

Rongomai Grbic-Hoskins
Born 1996, Te Rarawa/Ngāpuhi, Aotearoa New Zealand

White Bay Power Station

Aumoana, 2023–24
Aute, Hiapo, Kapa, Masi (bark cloth, broussonetia papyrifera), ‘umea, kōkōwai (earth pigments), nonu, gogo, tongo, gadoa, koka (natural plant dyes), smoked tō, smoked mānuka, smoked eucalyptus, smoked niumotu’u (coconut husk), muka cordage (Phormium tenax), Ash doweling (Fraxinus Oleaceae), toka’i manioke (tapioca starch)
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain with generous support from Creative New Zealand
Courtesy the artists

Bound together by the tides of history, tradition and the sea itself, the Indigenous people of Tahiti, Hawai’i, Aotearoa, Tonga and Fiji have spent tens of thousands of years beneath the same stars.

Long before European colonisation, Māori ancestors, understood to be shared across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (The Great Ocean of Kiwa), used knowledge of the constellations to spread over a third of the Earth’s surface. Known as celestial navigation, this wisdom was recorded in star maps throughout the islands. As well as surveying the ocean, these maps delineate time and seasons through tracking solar and lunar cycles.

Led by Māori bark-cloth maker Nikau Hindin, Aumoana is a collaboration between a generation of makers from Tahiti, Hawai’i, Aotearoa, Tonga and Fiji. Over 12 pieces, Aumoana uses the visual language of each culture to share symbols, stories and knowledge. Made of cloth hand-crafted from the bark of the paper-mulberry tree (ngatu in Tonga, kapa in Hawai’i, masi in Fiji, aute in Aotearoa and Tahiti), the work is a monumental effort in cultural revitalisation and an investigation into the material potential of the plant and the abundance of learning offered to each other from within diverse community relationships with the environment.

As Hina Kneubuhl describes each cloth is made with “the same love that births children…powers the tireless turning of careful hands toward the soil…toward the collecting of earth and plant pigments…cloth that envelops individuals and communities in ancestral wisdom and love, the cloth upon which the world turns”.

The Manu Aute (kite and bird) that hang between these cloths were traditionally used by the Māori people to divine the outcome of a battle, to communicate with distant kin, and to celebrate the dawn of a new year. In Aumoana they again call out to their people, memorialising what has been lost and honouring what endures.

Read more about the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, by purchasing the catalogue here.