This series of artworks has been honoured as a set of 5 stamps to commemorate Tuia 250.
When Tupaia, an arioi priest and navigator from Ra‘iātea, guided Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa in 1769, a reconnection was made between Māori and their ancestral homelands. As featured on these stamps, New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery has created original artworks in response to his discoveries about where his personal history meets that of these first encounters.
About the artwork:
Elegant kōtuku (Ardea modesta), uncommon in Aotearoa, appeared while Tuffery was drawing at Taputapu‘atea marae in Ra‘iātea and again in Ūawa. Here, the white heron is a messenger of connection looking towards Opoutama, the site of significant exchanges between Tupaia and Ūawa tangata whenua, also known as ‘Tupaia’s Cave’.
The painting’s carved framework depicts the mouth of the poupou of Hinematioro, a wall panel from a wharenui being built on Pourewa Island at the time of the Endeavour’s visit for a young chieftain from one of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti’s most senior lines.
Possibly presented to Tupaia, the poupou of Hinematioro is now in Tübingen, Germany, and is visited by Hauiti descendants on journeys of reconnection.