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[Koe Higoa Haaku Hiapo]

documentary heritage
  • Description

    Koe higoa haaku Hiapo' by hiapo maker and Auckland-based multidisciplinary artist Cora-Allan Wickliffe consists of ten rectangular pieces of hand-beaten hiapo (Niuean bark cloth) with freehand designs inspired by Niuean ethnobotanical references applied to the surface with handmade ink pigment (a mix of mangrove bark extract and burnt tuitui nut - candlenut pigment).

    Featured on each of the ten pieces of hiapo are lines of a poem of the same name, 'Koe higoa haaku Hiapo' written by Dr Jess Pasisi which is printed via a photocopier on the surface of the ten hiapo pieces in commercial ink. Some letters are hand-finished in the tuitui nut pigmented ink.

    Jess Pasisi's poem 'Koe Higoa Haaku Hiapo' is written from the perspective of a piece of hiapo from its raw state, through to manufacture, application of designs from its expert maker, and imagined movement of the finished piece from its home in Niue across oceans and finally into a museum institution, assumed to be in an overseas foreign location. This echoes the movement of many of Niue's magnificent large scale hiapo pieces, made in the 1800s and earlier, that have come to be found in museum collections around the world, yet largely absent in Niue. The knowledge of creating these hiapo works meanwhile has been dormant in Niue and diasporic communities until recently.

  • Place
  • Other Id

    GN434.5 HIG (Library of Congress Call Number)

    92175 (Cat ID)

    91978 (Presto content ID)

  • Department

Images and documents


  • Object Type
  • Name/Title
    [Koe Higoa Haaku Hiapo]
  • Primary Maker
  • Place
  • Date
  • Physical Description

    10 leaves ; 25 x 30 cm

  • Language
  • Level of Current Record
    Bib record
  • Subject Category
  • Content
    Hiapo 1 / Ko e higoa haaku ko Hiapo
    I was born from the hiapo, with bark pale and supple
    I was stripped bare, and laid in the salty sea water
    Then bundled and taken inland, to the freshwater caves
    Rinsed of my salty skin I drew breath
    My shape grew as the tutu began to beat
    The sound of the ike echoing against the tutua
    The women sang to us 'Tutu-hiapo! Tutu-hiapo'
    My mother painted me, her hand and mind steady
    She adorned me with taro leaves, flowers, vines and
    She wrote her name on me, and I felt complete
    Hiapo 2 / My majesty was displayed and the world took notice
    Hiapo 3 / A Palangi man came to me one day, he asked
    To take me away
    We knew it was time, so I took one last breath
    As they folded me up and put me on the Palagi vaka
    The darkness was heavy and the journey was quiet
    No one spoke to me, I didn't feel like talking
    After many days and nights of swaying
    I awoke to new sounds, new smells, a new light.
    Hiapo 4 / Pale hands touched me and stretched me out.
    Pale faces screwed up looking at men, their eyes bulging.
    They marveled at me, admired me, said I was rare,
    Said I needed to be kept safe.
    So the Palagi man put me in a case of glass
    My beauty frozen in cold glares.
    They said they knew all about me,
    And wrote their words beneath my display.
    I couldn't understand what they said so I closed
    My eyes.
    Hiapo 5 / My song was gone, I didn't want to speak any more.
    My patterns began to fade, my heart was longing.
    They took me down one day, said I didn't look right
    I was too quiet, room had to be made.
    They folded me up and placed me in a white box.
    I cried for me home, for my mother, my people,
    I knew I would have to wait.
    Hiapo 6 / Much time passed, dust had creviced my body
    Hiapo 7 / One day I heard footsteps stop beside me.
    I couldn't see the hand that took me from the shelf,
    Hiapo 8 / Strange new light peered in
    And blue-gloved hands held
    me gingerly.
    Then I saw another face, not
    Pale like the others
    but brown and friendly,
    familiar, peeping over the pale one.
    Hiapo 9 / 'Be very careful' said the
    Palagi, but she didn't
    The palagi unfolded me
    And began to tell the
    Brown girl my story.
    But she was getting it wrong.
    The brown girl said
    Something to the Palagi
    'I don't know, but I can
    Check' said the Palagi as
    she left for a moment.
    Hiapo 10 / The brown girl slipped off her blue glove
    She touched me with her warm brown hand and
    'Hina-e! Hina-o! Hina' come home hiapo.
  • Public Access Text

    [Keywords: Bark cloth art; Niuean poetry--21st century; Poetry--Oceania--21st century]

  • Subject Notes
    Cora-Allan Wickliffe is a multidisciplinary artist of Maori and Niuean descent, originally from Waitakere, Tamaki Makaurau. She was the recipient of the Pacific Heritage Arts Award category in the 2020 Creative NZ Arts Pasifika Awards, for her hiapo art practice.
    Jess Pasisi PhD, of Niue, PΓlagi, NgΓti Pikiao, and Tahitian decent, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Te Pua WΓnanga ki te Ao, Faculty of MΓori & Indigenous Studies, University of Waikato. Her research field of expertise includes Niue Studies, climate change, and Pacific and Indigenous Studies.
  • Collection Type
    Reserve Collection - Extra Outsize
  • Last Update
    19 Dec 2023
  • Language Description
    English and Niuean
The development of the Auckland War Memorial Museum online collection is an ongoing process; updates, new images and records are added weekly. In some cases, records have yet to be confirmed by Museum staff, and there could be mistakes or omissions in the information provided.

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