Fresh From The Field — Whakapapa Walls by Johnson Witehira

2 years ago by

This Fresh From The Field by Johnson Witehira of Indigenous Design and Innovation Aotearoa is a playful and artful expression Māori-world views.

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The Brief:

This work, entitled Mahimahi, was commissioned by the QT Hotel Wellington as part of their ‘“Your Art. Our Walls” project. Johnson Witehira was tasked with creating something that was playful and fun, yet still grounded in Te Ao Māori (Māori-world views) and Toi Māori.

(Photo by Mark Tantrum/

The Response:

Mahimahi is a verb in the Māori language that can mean; to copulate, have sex or make love. From a distance, the artwork appears like an innocuous pattern of tiki. Look closer though and you see figures of different gender and sexual orientation in coitus. Making sexual organs and activity explicit yet ambiguos is a strategy employed by Māori carvers following the arrival of missionaries in Aotearoa.

(Photo by Mark Tantrum/


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