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House of Joy coming to a close at Waikato Museum

5 March 2024

Ko Wharenui Harikoa he poro whaka hakoko. Ko Uenuku tawhana ki te Rangi
Wharenui Harikoa is a refracting prism of tuupuna-inspired light that shines across the sky like a rainbow.

Time is running out to see the spectacular handcrafted wharenui which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato in Hamilton this summer.

The breathtaking exhibition Wharenui Harikoa (House of Joy) ends on Sunday 17 March, concluding a record-breaking summer season. The six-metre high crocheted sculpture is the creation of husband-and-wife duo Lissy Robinson-Cole (Ngaati Hine, Ngaati Kahu) and Rudi Robinson-Cole (Ngaruahine, Te Arawa, Ngaati Paaoa, Waikato ki Tai).

“More than 35,000 people have visited Waikato Museum this summer, including 700 students from schools and kura all over the region. Kirikiriroa Hamilton has become the hub for spreading an important message of joy, aroha, and creativity,” said Liz Cotton, Director Museum and Arts.

“Seeing the way that people from all walks of life respond so positively to Lissi and Rudi’s work has been a source of delight for our kaimahi (staff).”

Waikato Museum is the first venue to display the completed Wharenui Harikoa artwork, which is handcrafted from 5,000 balls of yarn and brings together bright, neon colours with traditional toi whakairo (Maaori carving) shapes.

“This time of being at Waikato Museum has been a truly beautiful experience. From all the amazing hosts and staff who have shown us so much aroha, to all the people who have come through our wharenui with their tears, their joy, their hopes and dreams. It has shown us that where there is great love, there are always miracles,” said artists Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole.

“We will forever be grateful to Waikato Museum for being the place in which our whare could soar the realms of possibilities and to shine our Tūpuna-inspired light across the sky like a rainbow.”

As well as critical acclaim and social media praise, interactive features have been a particularly popular aspect of Wharenui Harikoa. The sensory wall, where visitors can get hands-on and make their own wool creations, became so laden with contributions that it had to be extended partway through the exhibition.

Visitors have also added more than 4,000 handwritten wishes to the waka huia container placed in front of the sculpture of Hiwa-i-te-rangi, known as the ‘wishing star’ in the Matariki cluster. The artists will incorporate these wishes into a Matariki ritual held later in 2024.

Wharenui Harikoa is open daily from 10am to 5pm at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 17 March 2024. Entry is free. 


Please note

For te reo Maaori, Waikato Museum uses double vowels (uu) in place of vowels with a macron (ū) to represent a long vowel sound. This spelling approach is the preference of tangata whenua in Hamilton Kirikiriroa and Waikato iwi for te reo Maaori words. Artists’ titles are shown in their original form.