Tuku Iho - Māori Living Legacy Program

Discover Māori Culture - Tuku Iho - Living Legacy - July 22 to 30, National Museum of Natural History

New Zealand’s Māori culture will take center stage July 22-30 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Through nine days of immersive programming, Tuku Iho | Living Legacy will feature Tā moko – the art of Māori tattoo; carving demonstrations; Kapa haka – a traditional form of Māori performing arts; and workshops and discussions with artists and performers against a backdrop of more than 70 Māori artworks handcrafted by students and teachers from New Zealand. Download Schedule of Events as PDF

Daily Māori Cultural Immersion in Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center, July 22-30

10 am-5:00 pm

  • Carving (Whakairo). Wood carving and the forests that supply the treasured material have played an important and respected role in Māori culture. Witness master artists carve a 20’ waka (canoe) and interact with the public throughout the day. 
  • Tā Moko Display. Tā moko – the art of Māori tattoo – is a unique expression of cultural heritage and identity. Watch Māori tattoo artists at work, with artist interactions throughout the day. Tattooing will be performed on pre-selected recipients only. 
  • Māori art and crafts. More than 70 traditional Māori art pieces will be on display, including stone, bone, pounamu (greenstone) and wood carving, weaving and bronze works.
  • Short films on Māori visual and performing arts in the Q?rius Theater on a loop.
  • Kapa Haka - or traditional Māori performing arts - forms a powerful and highly visual part of the New Zealand cultural experience.

10 am-12:00 pm Māori-inspired crafts in the Q?rius Loft. 

10:30-11:30 am Contemporary performance, followed by discussion with performers. 

1:30-2:30 pm Haka discussion and open workshop in Q?rius, immediately following the Rotunda performance. Guests will learn the history, thinking, and meaning of haka and the poi. Women will teach a poi dance and men will teach the haka. 

2:00-3:00 pm Artist Is In - Talk with artists and try traditional Māori crafts. 

3:30 pm Haka performance in Q?rius, followed by meet-and-greet with performers.

Kapa Haka Performance Daily Offerings, July 22-30

Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts and literally means to form a line (kapa) and dance (haka). It involves an emotional and powerful combination of song, dance and chanting.

9:45 am Performance at Constitution Avenue entrance, Ground Floor (15 minutes)

1:00 pm Performance in Rotunda

1:30 pm Discussion and open workshop in Q?rius (1 hour), immediately following the Rotunda performance. Guests will learn the history, thinking, and meaning of haka and the poi. Women will teach a poi dance and men will teach the haka.

3:30 pm Performance in Q?rius, followed by meet-and-greet with performers

Powhiri Ceremony | Closing Ceremony

Sunday, July 30, 3-4:30 As part of the closing ceremony, the 20-foot waka at the heart of the Tuku Iho program with freshly carved side strakes, bow, and stern will be gifted to the Smithsonian by New Zealand ambassador Tim Groser. Carved from a single totara tree, the waka has been created in Awanui, Northland at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) Te Tapuwae o te Waka (The National Canoe School).