The European art of embroidery and quilt making was taught to Cook Islands women by early missionaries’ wives 200 years ago. Needlework quickly replaced the beating of Tapa cloth made collectively by vaine (women). A revered art form, Tivaevae plays a significant role in Cook Islands culture, symbolising resilience, creativity, empowerment, and at the very core, the identity and pride of the Cook Islands people.

The Cook Island Māori word tuitui translates to the act of stitching and tangata means people. Tuitui Tangata reflects the integral role Tivaevae occupies in connecting time and space, intergenerational teaching, and connections between Cook Islands people and the natural world. This exhibition showcases a wide range of creativity, highlighting the limitless possibilities in designs, colours, and vibrancy.

A selection of Tivaevae is featured, generously provided by Ōtautahi Christchurch and Hakatere Ashburton Cook Islands community members and their families. We express our gratitude and appreciation for their generous contribution of time, knowledge, and cherished family heirlooms.

This exhibition has been toured by Fibre Gallery and Tagata Moana Trust.

FIBRE Gallery Ōtautahi Christchurch is the first of its kind in Te Wai Pounamu. A distinctly Moana gallery, dedicated to the display of community-engaged, digital, and heritage artworks by Moana creatives.

Tagata Moana Trust is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of Pacific peoples living in Aotearoa. They promote, design and deliver events and programmes which strengthen the diverse cultural identities of our Pacific peoples. Enhancing the health, wellbeing and social outcomes for our Pacific communities.

Opening hours

  • Open Daily: 10AM – 4PM
  • Late Night Wednesday: 10AM – 7PM


  • 327 West Street
  • Ashburton, 7700