Nikau Hindin

Ki Ngā Rangi Tūhāhā
1360 x 390 mm
ngārahu and kōkōwai on aute
Courtesy of the artist

Estimate: NZD 9,000 — 13,000

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The personal journey of obtaining knowledge within Te Ao Māori, is one that is both turbulent and deeply rewarding. It is a world that puts the individual into a matrix of relations of which they are accountable to, it embraces lived experience as expertise, and relies on intergenerational knowledge transferral to ensure that practices and traditions are passed on.

Ki Ngā Rangi Tūhāhā is Nikau Hindin’s contribution to When the Dust Settles and references these obligations, as well as her personal voyage of enlightenment in obtaining and practicing the self-reflexive lessons of ngā kete o te wānaga (the three sacred baskets of knowledge).

The three baskets; te kete-tuatea (the basket of light, translating loosely to present knowledge, te kete-tuauri (basket of darkness, loosely translating things unknown) and te kete-aronui (the basket of pursuit, or the knowledge that humans currently seek) form the pillars of the holistic whole of Mātauranga Māori that vibrate from the lines and triangulations of Hindin’s work.

Artist Biography & History
with Artspace Aotearoa:


Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo E Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology (group), 14 November 2020 — 05 February 2021. This exhibition was preceded by one of the same name staged at Para Site, Hong Kong, which was co-curated by Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa, with Cosmin Costinas and Vivian Ziherl. The iteration of this exhibition staged at Artspace Aotearoa was co-organised and supported by Para Site Hong Kong and Vivian Ziherl.


Artspace Aotearoa supported the production of a documentary recording Nikau Hindin's wānanga with the Pā’oa Revival Collective from Aitutaki. The documentary was directed and filmed by Seb Charles, excerpts are available to view on Hindin's instagram.

Nikau Hindin


Nikau Hindin (Ngai Tūpoto hāpū, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a barkcloth maker who works with aute (paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera). Hindin grounds her practice in Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems), the Māori Lunar calendar, language, genealogy and relationships with knowledge holders, the land, plants and the ocean. Hindin was influenced by her time in Hawai’i with teachers and students of voyaging, celestial navigation and kapa (Hawaiian tapa cloth). Hindin returned to Aotearoa in 2018 to reawaken the practice of aute, a tradition that hadn’t been practiced in over a century. Hindin straddles the worlds of Indigenous practice and contemporary art. Hindin’s first solo at The Dowse (2020) Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai, was based on the movement of celestial bodies as signs to not only find direction but also to delineate time as an important part of our stellar lunar calendar system. Hindin’s upcoming exhibitions include pasapkedjinawong: The River that passes through the Rocks at Mackenzie gallery in Regina, Canada. She is part of an inaugural tri-national Indigenous Triennial called To Draw Water at Winnipeg Art Gallery. She is also part of the 2021 Kathmandu Triennial. Hindin is an independent artist based in Turanga, Gisborne. Her work has been widely collected privately and also by public collections.

Excerpt from Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo E Tekinolosia by Cosmin Costinaş and Vivian Ziherl, 2019

Nikau Hindin has been invested in reviving the entire technological process behind Māori aute (bark-cloth) practices. Closely related to Tongan ngatu, Māori aute ceased to be practised in the nineteenth century. Hindin produces her own aute, which she inscribes with a fine system of striated markings that encode celestial charts of ocean navigation. In this work, a meticulous practice of recovering an artistic practice is combined with experiences of ocean travel utilising celestial navigation on a double-hulled waka haurua vessel.

The name aute refers to a canoe plant brought to Aotearoa by ancestress Whakaotirangi and then pounded into cloth to make adornments, kites (manu aute) and clothing (maro). It is believed that the practice subsided in mid-nineteenth century due to inhospitable growing conditions for aute, though some aute plants remain scattered around the North Island of Aotearoa. For the exhibition [Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo E Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology], Hindin has prepared a series of works titled Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai: From Celestial Bodies to the Earth, that represent a culmination of unique research on Māori aute over the past six years, learning from museum visits, close reading of existing texts, and working with a number of experts. Hindin has studied under the guidance of native Hawaiian kapa (bark cloth) makers and master knowledge holders from Aotearoa: Dante Bonica, Verna Takashima, Maile Andrade, Wesley Sen, and Kaliko Spencer. In addition, these works draw upon the parallel revival of celestial navigation and Māori astrology. A significant element of the new series is a deeper consideration of time—both manifest in the time spent by the artist in researching declinations of stars, maramataka (Māori Lunar Calendar), and rising times of different constellations, as well as in celestial motion as a temporal device and planetary chronological schema. Specifically, sheets of aute are inscribed as a two dimensional star compass, divided into 32 whare whetu or star houses, and marked by the intervals at which each star rises and sets in a specific house. Red lines divide each star house, while other vertical lines in black indicate star paths. For example, in each star map, Whakaahu Rangi and Whakaahu Kerekere, the twin stars (Gemini) rise in house Ngoi and chase each other across the sky, whereas Mintaka rises due east from house Whitinga and has three triangles because Mintaka is one of the cluster of three stars in Orion’s Belt.

For this series [Kōkōrangi ki Kōkōwai: From Celestial Bodies to the Earth], Hindin has also introduced a new temporal element by which the star maps also record the time that stars rise relative to the season. Once again, an analytics of time is fundamental to the graphic aesthetics of the works. Beating the aute, making kōkōwai (red ochre pigment), and observing the stars are all processes that take time but ensure that the resulting works have a direct contextual and geographical relationship to the community and audience that will view them. For example, Hindin lives and works on the East Coast of the North Island of Aotearoa, and emphasises a relational framework by which this ocean-facing aspect is the horizon inscribed within the star compasses of this series.

Hindin’s approach to mark-making is drawn from the knowledge and obligation framework of te ao Māori or the Māori world. With no remaining pieces of aute available to reference, a significant aspect of her work is one that directly confronts tradition with innovation, considering what marks might reflect Māori systems of knowledge. As Hindin emphasises, there is no word for ‘art’ in her language per se, arguing that art was and is woven into the fabric of Māori society. Here, the practical and the beautiful coexist and from this anchoring premise Hindin uses her pieces as a tool for knowledge retention and cultural revival. Of this new series Hindin writes:

“Our ancestral knowledge is based on keen observation of the moon, stars, tides, plants and the general moods of our environment. Synonymous with the arrival of Captain Cook was the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, new technologies, disease, a culture of colonialism and the gradual distancing of native peoples from their lands, practices and the knowledge systems tied into the environment. The reclamation of these cultural traditions is a way of reconnecting with the indigenous understanding that everything is alive, and we are all relatives.”

*Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo E Tekinolosia was produced on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name, curated by Cosmin Costinaş and Vivian Ziherl and staged at Para Site, Hong Kong. An iteration of this exhibition was shown at Artspace Aotearoa from 14 November 2020 — 5 February 2021.