Nina Oberg Humphries: Taura

6 June - 15 July 2023 Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga

Opening Speakers:

Anthony Wright, Director, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch
Nina Oberg Humphries, Artist 


Taura reimagines Taura Atua, pre-Christian spiritual items (physical representations of gods and ancestors) of the Cook Islands. Embodying symbols of migration by combining material from both traditional Polynesian taonga (treasures) and mass-produced dollar store items commonly used by urban Pacific peoples. 


These stories are encoded in the recreation of a Cook Islands God staff where the act of wrapping, and feather adornment are central to connecting and containing the mana of relationships and the Pacific-Aotearoa experience. The images reveal a playful exaggeration of the way cultural items become souvenirs divorced from their traditional function. This intentionally serves as a commentary on the profound impacts of tourism and globalisation, while simultaneously acknowledging the pleasure derived from these influences. 


Taura expresses a personal lament for lost cultural connections and a desire for a decolonised understanding of Cook Islands' heritage. By merging traditional and modern materials, Taura raises questions about cultural value systems and the interplay between authenticity and commodification. It is a personal and collective journey towards cultural reclamation and understanding, emphasizing the importance of preserving and untangling the effects of colonisation.