Waka huia (treasure boxes) are small wooden chests made to store and safeguard precious objects. Tim Wigmore’s exhibition Precious Cargo takes the traditional Māori waka huia form and reworks it in new ways to look at the connection between vessels and the objects they contain.
The exterior of waka huia are often elaborately carved with ornate surface designs that reflect and enhance the prestige of the objects held within. As an artist and furniture designer Wigmore is interested in the way these vessels respond to the taonga they contain and the fact that they are viewed as art objects in their own right.
Wigmore asked six renowned artists and craftspeople who use native timbers and materials to identify a tool important to their work. He then built a series of bespoke cabinets to house each of these objects. The result is six unique vessels that are designed to be experienced visually but also through touch, smell and sound.
The artists and craftspeople Wigmore has collaborated with are Lyonel Grant, Veranoa Hetet, Graeme Priddle, Chris Weaver, Brian Flintoff and Nga Waiata.
Puke Ariki has also selected a number of objects from the heritage collection that show how people have safeguarded their personal treasures over the years.