Awhina Murupaenga is a mother of two children and director of Whatu Creative, where she uses the art of tukutuku, a traditional Māori art form, to provide communities with whakapapa, history, innovation, healing, and storytelling. She is also passionate about “showing young Māori that they can set and achieve their goals”.
Tukutuku is a traditional Māori art form of latticework traditionally made from Toetoe, Pīngao and Kiekie. Awhina is a talented artist who weaves her skills to support Māori and help people understand and value Mātauranga Māori. Her mahi is grounded in te ao Māori and provides a culturally safe space to promote well-being for Māori whānau.
Awhina is the organiser of the Tuku atu Tuku mai workshop, which successfully gained funding from the 2022 Community Fund. For this project, she provides a modern take on the traditional craft and teaches the process for people to create their own story through tukutuku. She uses this project as a tool to reduce Māori suicide by giving hope, a release, and a sense of connection to Māori communities. The aim of Tuku atu Tuku mai is to break down barriers and create opportunities for better communication and well-being.
Alongside Tuku atu Tuku mai, Awhina works as the Founder and Creative Director of Whatu Creative Ltd, a Māori Business making Tukutuku Toi Kits, which provide a holistic approach to learning. She launched this business as a grief response and a way to navigate losing a best friend to cancer.