Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now


Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now takes a look at how we dress today and shows how various threads drawn from across the Moana, the Pacific Ocean, are being woven together to produce a new identity in which we can comfortably cloak ourselves in Aotearoa today.

The exhibition and publication documents how our history of migration and cultural exchange is visible in what we wear and how we adorn ourselves. With the migration of many different people, spread across generations, our identity and self-representation has evolved over time. Who we are and how we dress is a reflection of those journeys both past and present. A dress by Trelise Cooper that harks back to the missionaries, a glamorous gown by Tukua Turia and Karen Walker that has its origins in the sampler, a Neil Adcock hei tiki that can dance, and Steve Hall's androgynous dress join many other objects such as hats, bags, jewellery and tattoo to show what we look like today.

The Pacific has long been, to use the words of Maualaivao Albert Wendt "woven into my flesh like the music of bone flutes’ though New Zealanders have often failed to recognise the music."

The metaphor for weaving is apt, for it happens through the incremental art of strand by strand, the power of this, at least from my standpoint, is that when Pacific and other weavers stand back and shake out their shared work - the New Zealand the Pacific has shaped - the whole looks nothing like anything made before. 

- Damon Salesa, Island Time: New Zealand’s Pacific Futures (2017)

Moana Currents seeks to build understanding of how our place in the Pacific has led to the development of a distinctive Aotearoa identity and to our sense of ourselves. It seeks to help New Zealanders recognise Maualaivao Albert Wendt's 'music'.

Curated by Doris de Pont and Dan Ahwa.

Canterbury Museum · Overview – 'Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now' (audio description)


Garments in the exhibition

When & where

27 November 2021 - 6 March 2022

MTG Hawke's Bay Tai Ahuriri

21-24 December 2020 and 18 January - 9 April 2021

Māngere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku

22 February - 6 September 2020

Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch

7 September - 1 December 2019

Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, Auckland