An interactive arapaki panel arrives at Pukenamu Queens Park

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Town Center Regeneration Project Manager Ellen Young and Whanganui District Councilor Helen Craig with the new arapaki sign.

Karen Hughes/Supplied

Town Center Regeneration Project Manager Ellen Young and Whanganui District Councilor Helen Craig with the new arapaki sign.

The Whanganui Regional Museum is thrilled to host the city’s newest interactive art installation.

A large-scale tukutuku panel (locally known as an arapaki) has been placed outside the museum building in Pukenamu Queen’s Park.

Commissioned by Whanganui District Council as part of its town center regeneration work, the 1.8 x 2.6 meter structure is another addition to the town’s growing collection of outdoor activities on offer to the community for public enjoyment.

Tukutuku panels are intricate lattice shapes depicting various traditional designs. They are traditionally woven from harakeke (New Zealand flax), pīngao (golden sand sedge) and kiekie (a native vine) into kākaho (toetoe) or raupō (rush) stems.

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Each design represents a significant event, story or feature of an iwi area.

Whanganui’s unique mumu design references the ‘checkers’ board game played by whalers ashore.

Modern tukutuku panels often include traditional patterns in a contemporary design.

The new arapaki panel has a traditional ngutu kākā (kākā beak) design around the border.

Audience members are encouraged to create their own designs using the colored crosses provided with the sign.

Museum staff will take out the crosses each day during Museum hours.

The panel was designed by local artists Marty and Marilyn Vreede of Pakohe Whanganui, a local business producing harakeke (linen) paper and teaching resources for teaching te reo Māori.

Marty and Marilyn Vreede, holding a contemporary arapaki panel woven by June Rogan-Haami, depicting 'Te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa', 'From the Mountains to the Sea'.

Holly Hoddinott/Supplied

Marty and Marilyn Vreede, holding a contemporary arapaki panel woven by June Rogan-Haami, depicting ‘Te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa’, ‘From the Mountains to the Sea’.

Marty Vreede said: “In wharepuni (meeting houses), these panels are both decorative and functional. Decorative, in that they carry patterns and stories and functional, because they insulate the walls.

Local model maker Alex Falkner assisted with the design and construction, to develop the sign into a large-scale public artwork.

Ellen Young, Town Center Regeneration Project Manager, said: “The arapaki panel is a beautiful interactive piece of art that allows the community and school groups to interact with and learn from Maori art practices. more about traditional local crafts.”

Whanganui Regional Museum educator Margie Beautrais said she can’t wait to see the community have fun with the panel and be creative.

“It’s great to have a hands-on activity outside the building that connects directly to the taonga inside the museum and can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.”

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