Moana Nepia GS.jpg

Moana Nepia

Te Kore as Potentiality

While most Māori tribal traditions feature cosmogenic accounts of Te Kore as the primordial void or nothingness out of which everything else emerged, some also feature Te Kore within Te Ao Mārama, as an ancestral presence within the realm of human existence. Te Kore is also expressed as vital necessity through depictions as womb nurturing potential for life, pleura surrounding heart and lung, spaces within neural tissue and joints. This presentation offers insight into such complexities of Te Kore through analysis of its application and interpretation in different contexts, including historical and contemporary Māori narratives, anatomy, artwork, architecture, performances, dance, video and poetry. Its relevance to processes of personal and social transformation are also articulated through a focus on its efficacy as political, ethical, spatio-temporal and creative potentiality. This approach does not deny depictions of Te Kore as absolute void, nothingness, or annihilation, but embraces hope, renewal, balance, the possibility for new things to emerge - qualities we need to endure and prevail. This potentiality is also exemplified through Nga Aho’s contribution to design and architectural education within New Zealand by drawing communities together and promoting Māori perspectives while addressing issues of sustainability within local and global contexts.


Moana is a visual and performing artist, Assistant Professor in the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, and Arts Editor for The Contemporary Pacific – A Journal of Island Affairs.

Following a residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and exhibitions in New York and Honolulu in 2017, he has a painting selected to complement a display of historical Oceanic material being curated for the Met’s Rockefeller Wing late 2018, and upcoming publications on indigenous curation, collaboration, and creative practice-led research based upon his PhD from AUT University titled Te Kore: Exploring the Māori concept of Void.

Desna Whaanga-Schollum