Artwork Details


guitar, instrument, music, musical instrument, paua, venice biennale

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Tua Whitu

ArtistMichael Parekowhai
Production Date1999
Mediumcustom-made ‘Patriot’ semi-acoustic jazz guitar, maple, spruce, rewarewa, kauri, ebony and paua
Size1200 x 570 x 500 mm
DepartmentNew Zealand Art
Subjectsguitars, paua, popular culture, nationalism
Accession Date22 Feb 2001
Accession NoC2001/1/5/1-3
Credit LineChartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2001


This instrument is one of a unique edition which has the collective title Ten Guitars. Each customised instrument has different patterns derived from kowhaiwhai (rafter paintings) and, like all multiple art works, each is numbered. Tua whitu, ‘the seventh’ in Te Reo Māori, is inlaid in paua-shell lettering at the 12th fret. Engelbert Humperdink’s song Ten Guitars – the ‘B’ side of Please Release Me (1967) – was forgotten in the rest of the world but appropriated by Māori who had moved from rural areas to cities. As the artist has stated ‘in the 60s the guitar was like a portable marae’. toru, wha… (Recent Contemporary Acquisitions, 2002)

Exhibition History

Auckland Art Gallery
Hei konei mai: We'll meet again

30 May 2006 - 29 February 2008
Curated by Ngahiraka Mason

Auckland Art Gallery
Recent Contemporary Acquisitions
14 September 2002 - 16 February 2003
Curated by Roger Taberner

Adam Art Gallery
Play On
7 April - 25 August 2010

Pictured right:

Michael Parekowhai
Patriot: Ten Guitars
Installation Adam Art Gallery 2010. Photograph: Robert Cross


Other works by this artist in the Collection