- Museum number
- Object: Manu Wahine (Bird Woman)
Kite made of wood, feathers (toroa (albatross), pigeon, tarapunga (red-billed gull), house sparrow, guinea fowl, pari/putangitangi (paradise shelduck), kereru (New Zealand pigeon), wild turkey, dominican seagull, kahu (Australian harrier), blackbird, Australian magpie), pukeko's (swamp hen) foot , kiriau (lace bark), tapa (barkcloth), paua (haliotis) shell, fibre, flax, seeds, plastic, wool, and copper wire.
Head: Face of kite made of bark and edged with plaited natural fibre; facial moko (tattoo) on lips and chin in ink; eyes of paua shell attached with green kiriau. Green needle extends vertically downwards from chin. Headdress of feathers, secured with headband of woven black fibre cord decorated with white beads, and arranged over 'hair'. Hair plaited on one side and decorated with small circular disc. 'Topknot' decorated with circular disc and three needles. Seed earrings and feather ear attachments secured with copper wire.
Body of kite: Triangular form, constructed with wooden rods, painted red and bound with black (vertical rods) and white woollen yarn (horizontal rods). Kite's body made of pink wool blanket. Two sets of cream needles (17; 4) arranged horizontally across the upper body of the kite. Red needle extends vertically upwards from the centre of the base rod, with needles of the same colour fanning outwards either side, interspersed with three feather quills and secured with copper wire. At the termination of the left vertical rod, corn husks (dyed black and doubled over), feather quills, and a bird's foot (pukeko) are secured with cream kiriau. On the right, feather quills are bound with flax fibre rings; feather and fibre attachments decorate rings.
Wings: Feathers are laid in horizontal rows, grouped by type, and fanning out at either end of each wing. Feathers attached to backing of tapa (barkcloth), decorated on the reverse. Wings edged with white buttons sewn with red cotton thread.
- Production date
- 2007 (completion of kite)
Height: 168 centimetres
Width: 278 centimetres (between wing tips)
Depth: 7.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Feathers on wing one:
toroa, feral pigeon, tarapunga, sparrow, guinea fowl, pari/putangitangi, kereru, wild turkey, karoro
Feathers on wing two:
feral pigeon, kahu, blackbird, sparrow, karoro, wild turkey, Australian magpie (and pukeko claw)
I created this kite in response to the oldest known existing kite held at the British Museum. I thought he needed a mate, so I made a woman to keep him company. I imitated the design of her body and face to mirror his, thus creating a tribal resemblence. Initially I was going to use completely organic fibres but then decided to add domestic craft materials that had been introduced to Aotearoa by the British colonists. Brown blanket instead of tapa representing skin, hand-stitched mother of pearl buttons instead of shell, bone and plastic knitting needles instead of wood. I lashed the blanket onto the frame in the style of the tukutuku panels found on the marae. Her red needle maro (apron) has feathers splaying out, the Maori word for feather (huruhuru)and pubic hair is the same.
All the feathers in the wings are from native and introduced species of birds that are presently in Aotearoa, this is a historical presentation of the birdlife available here right now.
The face is moulded tapa (tree bark) with paua eyes and kiriau hair with a knitting needle topknot. She has a piercing through her chin as part of her contemporary adornment in the 21st century.
She has flax and feather anklets with a pukeko bird claw ready to snatch and grab as she flies through the air.
Suzanne Tamaki, 7.11.08
See McKinney, N., 'Winged woman', British Museum Magazine, No.63, Spring/Summer 2009, p.12 (acquisition pages).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- In 2002 the New Zealand Society UK made a donation of £1000 to the museum, from the proceeds of their annual Waitangi Day dinner. The sum was to be used for conservation work or a new purchase or commission for the New Zealand collections. The kite was commissioned from Suzanne Tamaki in 2004, to be a response to the historic kite, Oc1843,0710.11, already in the collections. The AOA department contributed a further £1000 to the purchase price of £2000. Transport costs of £2000 were met by the New Zealand Society (£114.58), and the British Museum Friends (£1993.30). Freight from Auckland to London was provided free by Air New Zealand.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number