Using contemporary media and the tools of abstraction, Kahukiwi evokes a memory of early taonga (treasure) of the same name – kahukiwi, a rare and precious traditional Māori kiwi feather cloak. Rendering the silky down of silver-grey kiwi feathers, hundreds of polished shafts of steel cover a field of linen, the support for weaving – a modern muka (flax). A labour of love, the weaving is made in repeated rythymic actions – each steel shaft piercing the substrate at minute distances apart, a patterning that unfolds through the trance-like rythymic actions of eyes and hands.
In an archival rethink, the steel Kahukiwi assuages conservation concerns. The rabbit – an introduced colonial pest that destroys native kiwi habitats – is reduced to glue skin size and preserves the linen field. Approximating the volume of feathers from a plucked kiwi, the minimalist artwork imagines a future-proofed kahukiwi in mint heritage condition.
At night and when lit, the steely cloak mimics the stealthy behaviour of the nocturnal flightless Kiwi, Aotearoa New Zealand's national bird. Raking shadows blur and camouflage the feathery shafts against the bare linen ground. The shafts drift downward, shimmer, amass depth, and appear soft and sensual. While tempting touch, beak-like sharp points will prick the persistent.