Traditionally, raranga and whatu (weaving) as art forms are most often associated with women, and the skills and techniques that have been passed down maternal lines for centuries. It is largely unknown that men have also practiced this craft and in some cases, have excelled in their chosen art form. Hao, a new exhibition at Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi that launches this weekend, intends to showcase exquisite creations from kairaranga tāne (male weavers).

Co-curated by Mark Sykes (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Porou) and Karl Chitham (Ngā Puhi, Te Uriroroi), Hao presents the work a group of kairaranga tāne has produced for whānau (family), friends and collectors in Aotearoa and further afield. The exhibition features diverse work across whatu, raranga and tāniko (finger weaving) including kākahu (clothing), kete (baskets), tukutuku (lattice-work), kupenga (fishing nets) and hīnaki (eel traps).

Hao literally means to gather within a net and in this instance, is also a metaphor for the bringing together of a group of kairaranga tāne from across Aotearoa. The title also makes reference to some of the historical Māori practices, such as kupenga and hīnaki, which were historically associated with male roles.

The exhibition includes work by Hamuera Robb, Cori Marsters, Wi Pohatu, Nigel How, Tuwhiti Happy, Karl Leonard, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Pikirangi Daniels and Te Weu Jobe.

Hao is a continuation of a project curated by Sykes and Chitham for Whakatāne District Museum and Gallery in 2008 called New Threads: Contemporary Male Weaving. Twelve years later, this exhibition acts as an opportunity to reflect on the shifts that have occurred over that time, and to celebrate the incredible work being produced by these talented individuals today.

Hao is a partnership between Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi – Whakatāne Exhibition Centre and The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington.