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Matariki cutlery set made for Unitec's ‘Inside the Aotearoa House’ exhibition.

Matariki cutlery set made for Unitec’s ‘Inside the Aotearoa House’ exhibition. Image: Supplied

Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology recently launched ‘Inside the Aotearoa House’, an exhibition of student work seeking Maori-inspired interpretations of everyday objects.

“You can take inspiration from a culture, or you can just take from a culture,” says the project’s director and Unitec’s Maori Education Advisor (Design and Contemporary Arts), Johnson Witehira.

Rather than taking an object and decorating it with kowhaiwhai patterning, students were asked to design with Maori narratives in mind. The results include furniture, tableware and lighting, such as a lamp based on the myth of Maui pulling down the sun and cutlery based on the positioning of the stars of Matariki.

According to organisers, the inspiration for this multi-disciplinary project was twofold: to challenge monocultural design education and the effect that globalisation is having on our New Zealand identity.

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