Tuku Iho

International Touring Exhibition

About the project

An exhibition of time-honoured Māori artworks, Tuko Iho | Living Legacy features more than 80 pieces of art using wood, bone, stone and flax mediums, handcrafted by students and teachers at New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI). The exhibition is supported by an array of other art forms including kapa haka, in situ wood carving and tā moko (Māori tattoo).

In 2011, NZMACI renewed its commitment to the original legislation and philosophy, including its mandate to protect, promote and perpetuate Māori arts and crafts and culture. This renewed focus was followed by a succession of ground-breaking cultural projects including Tuku Iho. Tuku Iho is not only fulfilling its responsibilities under the Act, but is creating and developing relationships with other indigenous groups throughout the world.

In the past three years, Tuku Iho has exhibited in China, Malaysia, Chile and Argentina. The benefits of the exhibition extend beyond cultural engagement, enabling strengthened political relationships between New Zealand and the host countries, the forging of education partnerships and international trade opportunities. Tuku Iho alsoadds strength, dimension and authenticity to the associated tourism offer – not just at Te Puia, but for Rotorua and New Zealand.

Tuku Iho Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro will host the Tuku Iho | Legado Vivo Māori (Living Legacy) exhibition in October 2015, coinciding with the city’s 450th anniversary of independence. The official opening takes place on Thursday 8 October and the exhibition will be open to the public from 9 – 25 October, housed at Galpão das Artes, Espaço Tom Jobim at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens.

Tuku Iho provides an opportunity for artists and performers to interact with Brazil’s indigenous peoples, schools, arts communities and exhibition visitors, providing insights about Māori culture and connecting the art to the people it comes from.

Alongside the exhibition, one of NZMACI’s esteemed carvers will be completing a tau ihu (canoe prow) as part of the exhibition, and three tā moko (Māori tattoo) artists will be working in situ at the venue.

Additionally, a vibrant schedule of live cultural performances will be performed at famous landmarks and Olympic venues around the city by a group of performing artists.

NZMACI will also work closely with the indigenous Kayapó tribe from the Amazonian region of Xingu, a large indigenous reserve. The tribe will make their way especially from the Amazon to take part in the opening of the exhibition and other official activities.

Tuku Iho Buenos Aires

At the most recent Tuku Iho | Living Legacy  exhibition, held in June 2015 in Buenos Aires, NZMACI worked closely with the indigenousWichí people of Argentina. Māori and Wichí carvers created carved works alongside each other, while a photographic exhibition – Live Legacy. Patrimony, Art and Reciprocity. Wichí and Māori people – served as a tribute to the two cultures. 

The NZMACI kapa haka showcased traditional Māori performing arts throughout the city in a number of performances including at ceremonies, schools and hospitals, and flash haka at iconic locations. Touch rugby games and live demonstrations of wood carving and a tā moko (Māori tattoo) were also held. 

NZMACI made history by becoming the first country to present its indigenous peoples in the Argentinian National Congress, alongside the Wichí, Coya and Guarani indigenous peoples – none of whom had ever had the opportunity to visit their own congress.

Following the July 2015 exhibition, Hayden Montgomery, New Zealand’s Head of Mission in Argentina wrote: “New Zealand should be very proud of what it has achieved in terms of promoting social integration and respect for indigenous peoples' rights and traditions. The strength of Māori within New Zealand’s society and economy never fails to shock people here. With the exhibitions and accompanying kapa haka performances in Buenos Aires we have been able to, in a very respectful way, showcase an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s culture and identity which helps to define who we are as a country and demonstrate an example for others to follow.” 


Tuku Iho Santiago Chile



Ministry for Culture and Heritage 

Tourism New Zealand

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Education New Zealand

Air New Zealand

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise