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You are invited to join Objectspace for the first Ockham Lecture during Pohewa Pāhewa with Puawai Cairns: Tīhate Haati – a short survey of protest and statement tīhate from Protest Tautohetohe.

Puawai will speak to the power of garments like t-shirts – easy to overlook but broad and effective political tools. Puawai Cairns, co-writer of the book Protest Tautohetohe, will go through some of the tees that are featured in the book, and why museums collect them as taonga.

This Ockham Lecture is presented in connection to Tīhāte!, a project in Pohewa Pāhewa that brings together t-shirts to demonstrate how this design outcome is used by Māori to show affiliations, share protest messages and commemorate important moments.

Puawai Cairns is of Māori descent from Tauranga Moana and belongs to the Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui tribes. She has worked in the museum and culture sector for twenty years and presently works as the Director of Audience and Insight at Te Papa Tongarewa where she oversees the audience facing work of the national museum.

Puawai has a curatorial and research background, and previously was the Head of Mātauranga Māori for Te Papa where she specialised in contemporary social history research and collecting to reflect the stories of Māori communities.

Puawai co-wrote a book on the material culture of protest (Gibson, S., Williams, M., & Cairns, P. (2019). Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of resistance, persistence and defiance), which won the 2019 Ockham book award for Best Illustrated Non-fiction.

She has recently completed co-writing a book about the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa (Cairns, P., Pugsley, C., Keith, M., & Taylor, R. (2022). Gallipoli: The Scale of our War (1st ed.). Te Papa Press.).

Puawai serves on numerous boards across Aotearoa, including Heritage New Zealand, Māori Heritage Council, and Atamira Dance Company, among others. She advises nationally and internationally on museum practices, advocating for greater indigenous participation and leadership in the heritage sector.

Puawai lives in Wellington with her daughter and partner.

The Ockham Lecture series is an annual programme of lectures and panel discussions across different themes that critically engage with craft, design and architecture. This programme is supported by Objectspace's Lead Partner Ockham Residential.


  • Free - registration essential


  • Thu 20 Jul


  • 5:30 pm — 7:00 pm


  • 13 Rose Road
  • Ponsonby