Indigenous | Auckland Museum

Tohunga toi awarded for contribution to Māori weaving and culture

Māori weaver and educator Christina Hurihia Wirihana was recognised last night for her contribution and dedication to Te ao Māori.

Wirihana (Ngāti Maniapoto-Raukawa, Ngāti Whawhakia, Ngāti Pikiao) was presented with The Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum Award at the Auckland War Memorial Museum awards ceremony, which celebrated achievements by current and former staff members.

The award citation noted Wirihana’s her 30-year-long career in education, culture and the arts.

“To be recognised with a museum medal, it confirms the work that I’ve been doing but what excites me is that there are people out there taking notice,” she said.

“For many years, I’ve just been doing what I love doing but to have an institution like the museum recognising this work, it means a lot.”

Wirihana currently teaches at a Māori visual arts school called Toihoukura at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Some of her notable works include five kete whakairo in the British Museum and harakeke panels as part of a touring exhibtion called Anō te Ātaahua - Honouring the Gifts of our Elders.

She took part in delivering the installation of 49 tuktuku panels in Kāhui Raranga: The Art of Tukutuku at the entrance to the United Nations General Assembly hall.

The ceremony is held every two years, with three medals awarded:

Fellow of Auckland War Memorial Museum – awarded for exemplary scholastic achievement relevant to the museum’s collections and activities. The contribution to Auckland Museum, or other New Zealand museums, must be unique and valuable.

Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum – awarded for singular achievement or contribution to areas relevant to, or in some way connected to, the public service of Auckland Museum, or other New Zealand museums.

Associate Emeritus of Auckland War Memorial Museum – may be awarded to the Museum’s research associates, volunteers, former staff or other individuals associated with the Museum to mark noteworthy achievement. Their contribution to Auckland Museum, or to the interests of the Museum, must be considerable, with the potential for ongoing long-term benefit to the Museum.

Last night’s medal recipients also included Dr John E. Braggins, Dr Susan Abasa and Mary Ama CNZM.

Christina Hurihuia Wirihana (far left), Dr Susan Abasa, Dr John Braggins and Mary Ama CNZM (far right) are the winners of the night. Credit/Auckland War Memorial Museum.