Kahukiwi

NZ Small Sculpture Prize, Waiheke I. — 2014

Using contemporary media and tools of abstraction Kahukiwi evokes early Maori taonga (treasure) - kahukiwi, a rare and precious traditional kiwi feather cloak, worn by tribal leaders. A labour of love, each steel point is pierced through the field of linen, the support for weaving, a modern muka (flax). Rendering the silky down of silver-grey kiwi feathers, the multiple shafts of steel drift down, shimmer, amass depth, and appear soft and sensual. While tempting touch, the beak-like sharp points prick the skin. In an archival rethink, Kahukiwi assuages conservation concerns. The rabbit, an introduced pest destroying native kiwi habitats, is reduced to glue skin size, here preserving the linen field. At night and when lit, the artwork mimics the surreptitious behaviour of the nocturnal flightless Kiwi. Raking shadows blur and camouflage steel outlines against the bare linen ground. Approximating the volume of feathers from a plucked kiwi, Kahukiwi offers a new heritage option.