May 19, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Invitation to submit tukutuku panels for United Nations

5 min read

If you are an artist, weaver or designer you will be interested in this!

A pattern of your creation may be used in tukutuku panels that will enhance the New Zealand wall in the United Nations Headquarters General Assembly building in New York. You are invited to submit a pattern for consideration. If your pattern is chosen, it may either appear in part or whole, in one of 25 pairs of tukutuku panels being created for permanent display on one of the most famous buildings in the world.


As a founding member of the United Nations (UN), New Zealands gift of a rimu wall, integrated into the structure of the UN Headquarters in New York, was made when the original buildings were built between 1950 and 1952.

During visits to the UN in 2010, the Minister of Ma
ori Affairs identified an opportunity to enhance the New Zealand wall to make it more readily identifiable with New Zealand. The rimu wall is located in one of the most prominent locations in the UN General Assembly building.

Snapshot of the Tukutuku Panels Project

Fifty tukutuku panels (or 25 pairs of panels) will be made from selected patterns that have been chosen on the basis that they are identifiably from Aotearoa New Zealand: traditionally inspired; of a contemporary/abstract nature; and, have a clearly articulated statement of the design concept.

The panels will be made by Te Ropu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa/ Maori Weavers of New Zealand.

The Jack Lawless Wh?nau Trust will lead the design and construction of the panels. The Trust is associated with master weavers with international reputation and has been commissioned to complete a variety of projects, in New Zealand and overseas, including a presentation at theMaori Art Meets Americaexhibition in San Francisco.

It is possible that each pair of panels may exhibit a different pattern and therefore the potential is for a maximum of 25 different patterns from 25 different creators.

A successful submitter of a pattern will be required to sign a license agreement to allow the design to be used in an unrestricted way to complete the panels. Successful submitters will not receive payment for their pattern, if selected.

The stages of the project involve:

  • harvesting natural resource materials;
  • managing public invitation for contributors to the design of the tukutuku patterns;
  • confirming the design of the tukutuku patterns and their use in panels;
  • confirming the resources, materials, expertise and process for constructing panels;
  • constructing panels;
  • confirming installation protocols;
  • shipping panels to New York and install.

The Minister of Maori Affairs will approve the final tukutuku panel designs in consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I learnt about the major refurbishments happening at the UN and saw that the New Zealand Wall was in need of maintenance; this was an opportunity too good to miss as the wall is in a very prominent location in the building, Minister Sharples says.

Criteria for proposed patterns

Te Puni Kokiri developed the selection criteria in consultation with the Jack Lawless Whanau Trust. A proposed pattern:

  1. will need to be a traditional pattern;
  2. must be identifiably Maori;
  3. can also be a contemporary take on traditional pattern;
  4. can be of an abstract nature;
  5. must meet specific dimensions [2,000mm x 900mm];
  6. will need to be suitable for the technique used by the provider;
  7. must be accompanied by a statement supporting their design concept; and
  8. design should be submitted in Excel spreadsheet format.

Conditions of entry

If you submit an entry, you acknowledge and accept that:

  • Te Puni Kokiri will not cover any of the costs associated with developing the proposed patterns;
  • if your design is selected, the copyright of the proposed patterns will rest with you as the creator of the pattern, but you will be required to sign a licence agreement with Te Puni Kokiri to allow the design to be used in an unrestricted way to complete the panels;
  • you will not receive any financial or commercial gain from the process; and
  • public contributions will be acknowledged in the Te Puni Kokiri publication.

If you have any questions you can email[email protected]




The Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples, is inviting contributions for designs for tukutuku panels that will enhance the New Zealand Wall in the United Nations Headquarters General Assembly building in New York.


When the original UN buildings were constructed in the early 1950s, New Zealand as a founding UN Member State gifted a rimu wall that was integrated into the structure of the building.

It has become damaged over time and the addition of the tukutuku panels will bring life back to New Zealands special place in that building. This is a collaborative project that will strengthen bonds, old and new: among countries, cultures and art forms.

We want to explore the use of designs by New Zealand artists that will then be incorporated into the panels by M?ori weavers Dr Sharples says.

The project is supported by the UN Capital Master Plan (responsible for the refurbishment), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Te Puni Kokiri is managing the project and has identified an internationally-renowned provider, the Jack Lawless Whanau Trust, to complete the design and construction of the panels. Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa/Maori Weavers of New Zealand will play a key role in making the final panels.

As part of the design of the panels, interested parties are invited to submit design ideas, which may be incorporated into the final panels by 1 February 2012.

Im very excited to see inspiring designs from across the country: whether or not you have done tukutuku before, this is your chance to get involved in a project that will show the world how important M?ori culture is to all New Zealanders, Dr Sharples says.

Those interested in making a submission can find more information on the Te Puni Kokiri website.

Media contact: Andrew Robb 029- 482 8494 or 04- 817 6772

1 thought on “Invitation to submit tukutuku panels for United Nations

  1. Tena koutou, I realize by checking the date that I may be too late to submit a proposal. I am an expert Tukutuku weaver. I am currently completing Torere Marae in Howick and Wharekawa Marae in Kaiaua. I have also completed Piritahi Marae, Waiheke Island tukutuku panels. I am currently studying for my Masters of Fine Arts and I would like to be considered for this project. I believe my expertise can help to formulate a design that would encapsulate the traditional values and tikanga deserving of such mahi and our culture. I am also available in an advisory role should I be too late for this application.
    Naku noa iti
    Na Lorna Rikihana
    021 0305881

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