Wharenui Harikoa at The Dowse

Wharenui Harikoa by Lissy Robinson-Cole and Rudi Robinson_image The Dowse banner image

Published: 19 October 2022

One of the most vibrant and colourful Wharenui you will ever see is on display at The Dowse Art Museum in Te Awa Kairangi, Lower Hutt.

Wharenui Harikoa is a full scale, crocheted wharenui created by husband-and-wife duo Lissy Robinson-Cole (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu) and Rudi Robinson (Ngaruahine, Te Arawa, Ngāti Pāoa, Waikato ki Tai) that brings together bright, neon colours and traditional toi whakairo shapes.Their vivid poupou, tekoteko, tukutuku panels and adorned pou tokomanawa, offer a new way of understanding the importance of joy and aroha within Te Aō Māori.

For the past eight years Lissy and Rudi have been using their creative energies to explore mātauranga Māori and their personal whakapapa through crocheted sculptural forms. They see Wharenui Harikoa as a refracting prism of Tūpuna (ancestral) inspired light that shines across the sky like a rainbow.

The Dowse Senior Curator Chelsea Nichols says “Wharenui Harikoa is like a warm hug that radiates with a magical, hot pink energy. Made from more than 300kg of custom pink yarn, a million crochet stitches and collaborators all over the world, it is hard not to feel inspired by the dazzling scale of Lissy and Rudi’s creative vision.”

The project is ongoing and new pieces will be added until the work is launched in its finished form during Matariki 2023, when Wharenui Harikoa will tour around Aotearoa.

This exhibition runs at The Dowse Art Museum until 19 February 2023 and showcases the pieces completed to date, providing an opportunity to share in the making and Kaupapa of the wharenui, and the mātauranga that has guided the design and construction so far.