Artist Nikau Hindin
Photographed by Rongomai Hoskins in Berlin 


Tell us about your craft?

I have spent the past decade dedicated to remembering and reinvigorating the practice of aute in Aotearoa. My practice is devoted to the life cycle of the aute (paper mulberry plant), from its growing and harvesting, to processing the inner bark and
creating a fine white cloth. I love working intimately with plants because the process is so transparent and you can’t fake it, if you know what I mean. If the plant has a scar you can’t cover it up. The bast, once stripped, is laid bare, it shows all its grain
and the history of how it grew over time. 
It has taken a long time to find a process for making aute that I believe our tupuna would have followed and it has come through a lot of research through books, stories, spending time with knowledge holders but also through the physicality of the practice.
Every harvest I reflect on the harvest before and become quite surprised but how much we have learned and slightly adapted the process. I align my practices with the maramataka, Māori Lunar Calendar and using earth pigments, I inscribes my aute
pieces with design systems that come from rectilinear whatu raranga and tukutuku patterns. 


 How does nature inspire your work?

The cycles and systems of nature essentially drive my process. It is a reciprocal relationship and it really exists outside of the capitalist forces that we are all bound by. I love how the process funnels all of my attention into the present moment.
The Maramataka also plays a big role in my work. The sap in plants moves, just like the tides do in relation to Hina. My main role as a barkcloth maker it to balance time and water within the fibres of the plant- kind of like Hina herself. I try to harvest
on a full moon as it really does yield the juiciest plants that are easier to work with. 
In terms of the design systems I create- I’m working on a series that documents the movement of stars across the 13 moon cycles that have just past. We are in Pipiri now, the first moon cycle of the year but we are following on from Ruhanui which
is the 13th moon cycle. Piripi and Ruhanui are Hamal and Sheraton in the constellation of Aries which is up and to the left of Matariki. Once all 13 star maps are lined up you will be able to notice the pattern of the stars, and see that they rise earlier
and earlier every morning. The Māori system of recording time is based on the Lunar Stellar Calendar as apposed to the sun. That means each month has a special star associated with it. Just like Matariki is special this moon cycle, the next special
star is Takurua which is Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and known as Hine Takurua, the Winter Goddess. I wanted to acknowledge each moon cycle and its heliacal rising star.
Our ancestors had very sophisticated processes and technology that related to the systems of the natural world. We sailed across the largest expanse of ocean in the world (1/3 of the earths surface area) - pulling this island towards them like they knew
where it was before they had even seen it. We then adapted our knowledge systems to this climate and merged with the land, ocean and rivers. Aotearoa shaped and wove us, just like we shaped and wove the plants and rocks of this whenua.
The place made us who we are, it made is Māori.


 When do you feel at your creative best?

It is funny but I have to say that my best work comes after working at something for many hours. Creative potential is best captured after it has been distilled. There is no such thing as an overnight success, inspiration doesn’t come in a flash while lounging.
We say Toi Māori is the cultivation of excellence- after working, observing or focusing at something for many hours, only then will you be able to execute it to its full potential. That’s the other thing with working with natural materials- time is your teacher
and time is the momentum pushing it slowly towards its most exceptional form. 

What 3 words describe your personal style?

I really don’t know! Maybe casual and comfortable most of the time and I always try to wear natural fibres. I love browns and natural colours but I also love a pop of strong colour. 



Nikau wears

Minikin Silk Rib Tee | Gelato
Lana Silk Cardigan | Royal Purple 
Gloria Silk Drawstring Skirt | Cactus