Tena I Ruia; Kahukiwa, Robyn; 1987; 89/116


Tena I Ruia

About this object

Tena I Ruia shows seven Maori women performing a haka. The haka is a dance only performed by men in most Maori tribes. However, Robyn Kahukiwa’s iwi, Ngati Porou, has traditionally sanctioned a haka for women to articulate their concerns. This painting is a powerful example of Kahukiwa’s interest in showing Maori women as active forces in Maori and Pakeha society. Tena I Ruia is also a strong example of Kahukiwa’s characteristic integration of traditional and contemporary materials, styles and subject matter. The work is Expressionist in style. The expressive brushwork, the intense colours and the deliberate distortion of natural shapes combine to show the emotions of the artist. Early Expressionist painters often used African and Polynesian images, so here Kahukiwa has effectively taken back, or reappropriated, her cultural images. Kahukiwa was born in Sydney, Australia and trained as a commercial artist. In 1959 she moved to New Zealand and has become known for paintings that celebrate the mana of Maori, especially women.


Kahukiwa, Robyn

Date Made


Credit Line

Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu; purchased with assistance from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, 1986

Object Type

Acrylic on canvas

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved


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