Robyn Kahukiwa


This screen print forms part of a series also called Pepeha. Paintings from the series appeared in two shows held in 2022: Matarau, curated by Shannon Te Ao, at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, and Mana Māori Motuhake at Season. The works all centre on the pepeha as an articulation of connections to ancestors and land.

Pepeha the print features a maunga in the form of a head, a serpentine awa, and a huia—an emblem of mana and rangatiratanga. The maunga stresses ties between tangata and whenua, and acknowledges Papatūānuku; the awa flows down from Ranginui. The central figure is urukehu, fair-haired. This feature suggests transcendence while acknowledging the diverse physical characteristics carried by tangata whenua.


Robyn Kahukiwa is one of the leading artists of her generation. Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1938, she moved to Aotearoa, her ancestral home, in 1959. From 1972 to 1982, she was an art teacher at Mana College, Porirua. She became a full-time artist in 1983.

Since the early 1970s, Kahukiwa has explored questions of heritage, identity, and sovereignty that are central to the Māori experience and relevant to Indigenous people internationally. Best known as a painter, she has also produced prints, drawings, and sculpture.

Kahukiwa’s practice ranges across diverse subjects, including colonialism and the dispossession of Indigenous people, blood-ties and motherhood, customs and pūrākau (stories or histories). She exhibits regularly and has works in collections all over the world.

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