Māori tukutuku panels to adorn United Nations General Assembly building wall

  • Pita Sharples
Māori Affairs

The Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples, is inviting contributions for designs for tukutuku panels that will enhance the New Zealand Wall in the United Nations Headquarters General Assembly building in New York.

While at the UN Headquarters in 2010, Hon Dr Sharples identified an opportunity to both demonstrate New Zealand’s long-term commitment to the UN, while showcasing the unique cultural identity of Māori as tangata whenua, the indigenous people of Aotearoa.

“I learnt about the major refurbishments happening at the UN and saw that the New Zealand Wall was in need of maintenance; this was an opportunity too good to miss as the wall is in a very prominent location in the building,” Minister Sharples says.

When the original UN buildings were constructed in the early 1950s, New Zealand as a founding UN Member State gifted a rimu wall that was integrated into the structure of the building.

“It has become damaged over time and the addition of the tukutuku panels will bring life back to New Zealand’s special place in that building. This is a collaborative project that will strengthen bonds, old and new: among countries, cultures and art forms.

“We want to explore the use of designs by New Zealand artists that will then be incorporated into the panels by Māori weavers” Dr Sharples says.

The project is supported by the UN Capital Master Plan (responsible for the refurbishment), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Te Puni Kōkiri is managing the project and has identified an internationally-renowned provider, the Jack Lawless Whanau Trust, to complete the design and construction of the panels. Te Roopu Rāranga Whatu o Aotearoa/Māori Weavers of New Zealand will play a key role in making the final panels.

As part of the design of the panels, interested parties are invited to submit design ideas, which may be incorporated into the final panels by 1 February 2012.

“I’m very excited to see inspiring designs from across the country: whether or not you have done tukutuku before, this is your chance to get involved in a project that will show the world how important Māori culture is to all New Zealanders,” Dr Sharples says.

Those interested in making a submission can find more information on the Te Puni Kōkiri website.