Robyn Kahukiwa is a visual artist who explores notions of heritage, identity and sovereignty integral to the Māori experience in New Zealand and to Indigenous communities more broadly. At the intersection of art and activism, her multidisciplinary practice centres on the colonisation and dispossession of Indigenous peoples as well as Indigenous epistemologies of motherhood, genealogy, traditional customs and pūrākau [Māori legends or histories]. Resisting the erasure of Māori identity, Kahukiwa’s paintings, for which she is best known, testify to the survival of a dynamic, diverse culture in the face of violent resettlement and attempted forced assimilation.
Kahukiwa’s work has been the subject of many solo exhibitions, including Mana Māori Motuhake, Season, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2022); Maumahara: Remember: Selected Works 1971–2012, Mahara Gallery, Waiakanae (2012); Mauri Ora!, Dowse Art Museum, Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt (2002, toured); and Wāhine Toa: Women in Māori Myth, Wairarapa Arts Centre, Whakaoriori Masterton (1983, toured). She has participated in countless group exhibitions and festivals in Aotearoa and abroad, including Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2020–21), Five Māori Painters, Auckland Art Gallery (2014); The 1st Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (1993); and Te Waka Toi: Contemporary Māori Art from New Zealand, organised by Te Waka Toi Council for Māori and South Pacific Arts (1992–94, toured).
Works of Kahukiwa’s are held in collections around the world, including those of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; National Gallery of Australia; Te Manawa, Te Papaioea Palmerston North; and Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, Kirikiriroa Hamilton. She has participated in art residencies in Aotearoa and the United States of America, and is the recipient of two of New Zealand’s most prestigious art awards: Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, Exemplary/Supreme Award, Te Waka Toi Awards (2020), and Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi, Making a Difference, Te Waka Toi Awards (2011).
Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023)