Search our collections

Advanced Search

Topic: Tapa: Pacific Style - Hawaiian kapa

Is part of topic Tapa: Pacific Style

The history of kapa (tapa) in Hawai'i follows the history of Hawai'i itself. In the 1820s, American Christian missionaries first arrived in the islands. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and Queen Lili'uokalani deposed, and Hawai'i was annexed by the USA. Under these missionary and colonial influences, some cultural practices – including kapa-making – disappeared. 

In the 1960s native Hawaiians began to revive the art of making kapa. Hawaiian artist Puanani Van Dorpe began researching historical designs and manufacture of kapa, and making new work based on this research. Today an increasing number of native Hawaiian artists are producing kapa, blending old processes and contemporary designs. 

This collection narrative is based on the Tapa: Pacific Style exhibition on display at Te Papa, level 4 (September 2009 - September 2010).

Related information