Benjamin Work And Brendan Kitto: Motutapu

MOTUTAPU is the conclusion of a four-year journey by artist Benjamin Work and photographer Brendan Kitto. This exhibition looks at the shared history of Motutapu (sacred island) throughout Moana Oceania –  including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour here in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Motutapu is a place of sanctuary. Positioned at the entrance of great harbours, straddling the open ocean and the mainland, it serves as a gateway for navigators arriving and departing on voyages. The lifting of tapu and making things noa took place on Motutapu, allowing navigators to continue with their journey back to their closest kāinga, even if it was generations later.

Work and Kitto’s enquiry into Motutapu was initially centred around the shared name. What soon became apparent was a deeper connection to their own hohoko/’akapapa (genealogy) as they travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and connected with key knowledge holders. Motutapu has become a metaphor for Work and Kitto as a gateway into or starting point for these personal journeys. Through this exhibition, they offer it to the extended diaspora of Moana Oceania as a way for reconnection and reconciliation, and as a reminder of what joins communities across time and space.

11 June - 11 September 2022

Photos by Sam Hartnett


Benjamin Work

Artist website

TAUTAI profile

Video interview

Review of Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart

Residency at Parasite Hong Kong

Brendan Kitto

Artist website

In pictures: The transformation of Glen Innes

Shop Front series