Margaret Aull


Tai Aroha (2018)

"Tai Aroha" (2018) by Margaret Aull

Tai Aroha is centred around whakapapa (genealogy) that is shared between two lands and cultures through my matriarchs. My mother’s mum comes from Hokianga, Aotearoa; here there is a significant harbour that we connect to spiritually and culturally.

My father’s mother is from Fiji.

Tai Aroha is waiata sung that refers to the ideology that love is like a tide; it ebbs, it flows, it is deep and unconditional. This is how I see the movement of my ancestors and family – when one tide is out, the other is full; it is a synthesising relationship of how I acknowledge the two cultural foundations as a body of water.


The symbol used is taken from a  weaving pattern and design called Patiki, representing flounder, a fish found in our shores.

The material used is Paua (abalone) a delicacy when eaten and gathered on the foreshore and seabed of Aotearoa.

The Paua has significant uses within our carving histories. The use of the Paua shell as eyes is used  to emphasise the spiritual essence of a carved form. Each piece is a metaphorical reference to the stories and the representation of who and what I represent as Māori-Fijian.

There is a correlation between the physical, metaphysical representation and empirical knowledge handed down through whakapapa (genealogy). In a conversation about cultural representation, my mother said, “our culture isn’t about you and what people see –  what people need to know is that there are a hundred others standing behind you”. This cluster of 100 Paua eyes represents this idea.

Margaret Aull (b. 1978) is a painter, curator and arts manager whose practice across disciplines is deeply informed by her maternal whakapapa to Te Rarawa / Tuwharetoa in Aotearoa, and paternal links to Fiji. She is currently Taonga Gallery and Tuku Iho Collection Curator at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Craft Institute (NZMACI), a role that followed more than a decade working as Te Poutiaki Toi – Art Collection Curator for the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

After completing a Bachelor of Media Arts at Wintec, Aull went on to hold her first solo exhibition, Na Kena Yali at the Chartwell Gallery in Hamilton in 2008. She has exhibited widely since then in group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, producing two further solo exhibitions at Papakura Art Gallery (Concealed Ancestors, 2013) and OREXART in Auckland (2014). Her Master of Fine Arts (Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design) research centred the notion of Tapu/Tabu, specifically of objects and personal items created as visual representations of ancestors and gods.

Throughout her practice, Aull has investigated sculptural form, reproducibility and the materiality of paint and mark making in mixed media works on canvas and experimental installation. Having developed a strong buying audience and following, Aull has become known for bold compositions and rich, textured colourscapes. Articulating the space between her Māori and Fijian ancestries and socio-cultural worldviews, Aull’s work contributes comfortably and at times uncomfortably to contemporary Māori, Pacific and wider Aotearoa art discourses.

Since 2015, Aull has been part of the The Veiqia Project, a creative research project investigating the practice of Fijian female tattooing. Taking the form of shared research, public events and exhibitions, the project has fostered connections between artists, museums, Fijian and Melanesian communities in Aotearoa, Australia and Fiji.

Recently, Aull was appointed to Te Atinga – Contemporary Visual Arts committee, an advocacy role within Toi Māori. In 2017, she completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies (Waikato University) as well as producing new work for Karanga Hokianga, a joint exhibition with fellow artist-curator, Nigel Borell at Village Arts Gallery, Hokianga (2017), and Ārai, a group exhibition with Zena Elliott and Aimee Ratana at Ramp Gallery, Hamilton (2018).