MOTUTAPU is the conclusion of a four-year journey by artist Benjamin Work and photographer
Brendan Kitto. This exhibition looks at the shared history of Motutapu (sacred island) throughout
Moana Oceania – including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā
Harbour here in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Motutapu is a place of sanctuary. Positioned at the entrance of great harbours, straddling the
open ocean and the mainland, it serves as a gateway for navigators arriving and departing on
voyages. The lifting of tapu and making things noa took place on Motutapu, allowing navigators
to continue with their journey back to their closest kāinga, even if it was generations later.
Work and Kitto’s enquiry into Motutapu was initially centred around the shared name. What
soon became apparent was a deeper connection to their own hohoko/'akapapa (genealogy) as
they travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and connected with key knowledge holders.
Motutapu has become a metaphor for Work and Kitto as a gateway into or starting point for
these personal journeys. Through this exhibition, they offer it to the extended diaspora of Moana
Oceania as a way for reconnection and reconciliation, and as a reminder of what joins
communities across time and space.